NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Between 36 percent and 47 percent of New Jerseyans say they will “probably” or “definitely” not get vaccinated against COVID-19, with response rates varying depending on how the question is asked, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
Among individuals reluctant to get vaccinated, 80 percent cite a concern about side effects, and 82 percent cite the need for more information about how the vaccine works as “major reasons” for their resistance. Fewer respondents cite not feeling they need it (a major reason for 25 percent, and minor reason for 23 percent) or the potential cost (a major reason for 15 percent and minor reason for 22 percent).
“With the recent positive news from Pfizer and Moderna, it is likely that public opinion on immunization will continue to shift and evolve,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “But right now, a large portion of New Jerseyans are still wary, which makes any future messaging encouraging vaccination that much more important.”
The proportion of those who say they would “definitely” or “probably” get vaccinated varies depending on how the vaccine is described. When framed as a “first-generation” vaccine, 17 percent say they would “definitely” and 32 percent say they would “probably” get vaccinated. The numbers increase to 20 percent “definitely” and 33 percent “probably” when asked simply about a “vaccine.” Respondents are most enthusiastic — 36 percent “definitely” and 24 percent “probably” — when it is described as “safe and effective.”
“We know that how something is worded or framed makes a difference in how people respond,” noted Koning. “The more the vaccine is described with some sense of certainty, the more agreeable residents are to getting it.”
Vaccine or no vaccine, New Jerseyans do not see the Garden State returning to normal anytime soon. Forty-two percent feel New Jersey will not be back to normal until six months to a year from now. Another 30 percent feel it will take longer. Twenty-three percent, on the other hand, believe things will be better within the next six months.
Sixty-six percent of New Jerseyans say they know someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, up a few points since the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll first asked this question in May. Seventy-one percent are worried (30 percent “very,” 41 percent “somewhat”) that they or someone in their household will get sick from the coronavirus, though this is down from last spring (41 percent “very,” percent “somewhat”).
Results are from a statewide poll of 1,001 adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from October 18 to October 24. The full sample has a margin of error of +/-3.8 percentage points.
View the questions and tables here.