Side effects, government mistrust, necessity: There are many reasons why millions of Americans have chosen not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Our team of analysts looked at the latest data on vaccine hesitancy to find the main reasons why people aren’t getting vaccinated.

Key findings:

  • Nationwide, 56% (57% in September) of people say concerns over side effects are keeping them from getting the vaccine.
  • The number of people who are unvaccinated because they don’t trust the vaccine continues to rise, it’s now at 45%.
  • Nearly 19% of people don’t think COVID-19 is a threat, down from 21% in September.
  • At 18%, people without health coverage have one of the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy.

In Vermont, 77% of unvaccinated people are worried about side effects. Nearly 56% of unvaccinated New Jersey residents are waiting to see if the vaccine is safe. And in Kansas, 54% of unvaccinated people say they don’t trust the government. The percentages vary in each state but our team of analysts found there are five main reasons why people aren’t getting vaccinated:

  • They don’t believe they need it
  • They’re waiting to see if it’s safe
  • They don’t trust the COVID-19 vaccine
  • They don’t trust the government

Respondents were allowed to choose multiple reasons, so the percentages in the table below won’t add up to 100%.

Reasons for vaccine hesitancy by state & change over last week
State % Concerned about possible side effects % don’t believe I need a vaccine % plan to wait and see if it's safe % who don’t trust COVID-19 vaccines % who don’t trust the government % who don't think covid is a threat
United States 56%
↓1%
27%
↓3%
37%
↓2%
45%
↑1%
37%
↓3%
19%
↓1%
Alabama 54%
↓13%
26%
↓9%
29%
↓13%
51%
↑1%
39%
↓5%
18%
↓7%
Alaska 48%
↓17%
42%
↑3%
22%
↓18%
37%
↓14%
35%
0%
35%
↑6%
Arizona 59%
↑5%
38%
↑6%
27%
↓12%
45%
↑7%
43%
↑2%
27%
↓2%
Arkansas 59%
↑2%
18%
↑6%
24%
↓5%
42%
↓7%
30%
↓6%
9%
↓6%
California 52%
↓11%
33%
↓5%
36%
↓15%
40%
↓11%
32%
↓15%
19%
↓11%
Colorado 60%
↑14%
32%
↑2%
37%
↑2%
48%
↑10%
41%
↑9%
25%
↓5%
Connecticut 69%
↑16%
26%
↓6%
47%
↑5%
41%
↓2%
48%
↑22%
27%
↑15%
Delaware 48%
↓4%
23%
↑3%
33%
↑3%
38%
↓2%
39%
↓3%
13%
↓12%
Florida 62%
↑11%
23%
↓2%
38%
↑3%
51%
↑8%
26%
↓4%
14%
↑4%
Georgia 66%
↑13%
23%
↑4%
37%
↓5%
45%
↑2%
28%
↓12%
15%
0%
Hawaii 70%
↑1%
34%
↑7%
30%
↓10%
39%
↓6%
35%
↓5%
18%
↑5%
Idaho 62%
↑6%
27%
↓13%
37%
↓3%
47%
↑5%
42%
↑8%
19%
↓7%
Illinois 62%
↑5%
38%
↑15%
38%
↓2%
61%
↑26%
46%
↑13%
26%
↑12%
Indiana 55%
↓4%
31%
↓2%
43%
↓5%
52%
↑6%
40%
↑5%
25%
↓3%
Iowa 66%
↑8%
44%
↑4%
38%
↑1%
47%
↓3%
53%
↑2%
34%
↑6%
Kansas 51%
↓4%
27%
↓7%
31%
↓2%
46%
↓7%
41%
↓13%
21%
↓8%
Kentucky 61%
↑8%
21%
↓10%
41%
↑12%
44%
0%
33%
↓20%
16%
↓7%
Louisiana 50%
↓5%
26%
↓5%
51%
↑17%
39%
↓15%
33%
↓11%
10%
↓10%
Maine 58%
↑7%
22%
↓15%
39%
↑11%
35%
↓3%
37%
↓7%
13%
↓11%
Maryland 63%
↑20%
18%
↓3%
49%
↑9%
50%
↓4%
49%
↑8%
13%
↓4%
Massachusetts 58%
↑7%
21%
↑2%
51%
↑11%
43%
↑3%
41%
↑7%
20%
↑5%
Michigan 60%
↑5%
26%
↓16%
40%
↑5%
50%
↑11%
47%
↑10%
24%
0%
Minnesota 53%
↑2%
49%
↑11%
30%
0%
47%
0%
53%
↑12%
33%
↑2%
Mississippi 47%
↓16%
29%
↑15%
21%
↓16%
49%
↑18%
35%
↑9%
13%
↑8%
Missouri 37%
↓20%
22%
↓16%
20%
↓18%
32%
↓17%
31%
↓17%
15%
↓7%
Montana 63%
↑5%
45%
↑8%
25%
↓10%
54%
↑4%
44%
↓2%
34%
↑10%
Nebraska 63%
↓1%
31%
↓6%
46%
↑10%
50%
↓1%
50%
↑5%
30%
↓1%
Nevada 59%
↑9%
30%
↓5%
43%
↑7%
32%
↓10%
25%
↓11%
22%
↑8%
New Hampshire 46%
↓12%
32%
↓7%
39%
↓10%
38%
↓19%
53%
↓8%
28%
↓14%
New Jersey 69%
↑16%
36%
↑15%
56%
↑17%
50%
↑15%
41%
↑4%
21%
↑11%
New Mexico 66%
0%
37%
↑13%
31%
↑2%
55%
↑18%
46%
↑17%
19%
↑3%
New York 58%
↑3%
16%
↓13%
45%
↓7%
32%
↓8%
28%
↓9%
13%
↑3%
North Carolina 58%
↑1%
21%
↓8%
46%
↑5%
44%
↑2%
41%
↑1%
15%
↓4%
North Dakota 50%
↓14%
38%
0%
19%
↓27%
33%
↓16%
38%
0%
20%
↓13%
Ohio 46%
↓18%
18%
↓9%
35%
↓14%
55%
↑8%
39%
↑2%
21%
↓1%
Oklahoma 54%
↓10%
36%
↑5%
25%
↓11%
52%
↑11%
41%
↓2%
21%
↑2%
Oregon 60%
↓6%
30%
↓8%
40%
↓8%
50%
↓11%
46%
↓6%
24%
↓6%
Pennsylvania 52%
↓15%
29%
↓10%
28%
↓4%
45%
↓8%
43%
↓6%
24%
↓10%
Rhode Island 71%
↑11%
36%
↓8%
49%
↑21%
36%
↓12%
50%
↑14%
5%
↓14%
South Carolina 54%
↑3%
18%
↓11%
41%
↑18%
36%
0%
36%
↓3%
15%
↑3%
South Dakota 68%
↑12%
35%
0%
26%
↓12%
46%
↑10%
53%
↑21%
23%
↓11%
Tennessee 56%
↑7%
25%
↑11%
36%
↓1%
44%
↑9%
45%
↑15%
15%
↓6%
Texas 45%
↓9%
23%
↓2%
45%
↑5%
42%
↑9%
31%
↓8%
17%
↑3%
Utah 51%
↓10%
33%
↑2%
40%
↓6%
31%
↓11%
32%
↓7%
32%
↓4%
Vermont 77%
↑24%
58%
↑45%
32%
↓7%
56%
↑12%
30%
↑3%
50%
↑35%
Virginia 54%
↓1%
16%
↓12%
30%
↓3%
42%
↑7%
37%
↓12%
20%
0%
Washington 59%
↑1%
32%
↓3%
33%
↓4%
47%
↑3%
37%
↓5%
23%
↓7%
West Virginia 47%
↓23%
25%
↓9%
28%
↓11%
40%
↓17%
46%
↑12%
14%
↓8%
Wisconsin 56%
↑4%
36%
↓2%
33%
↑3%
47%
↓5%
50%
↑9%
34%
↑9%
Wyoming 49%
↓12%
31%
↑2%
32%
↓5%
41%
↓2%
37%
↓1%
27%
↑4%

The coronavirus vaccine is available free of charge but we found that people without insurance are nearly twice as likely to not get the vaccine. Nearly 20% of people without healthcare coverage are vaccine hesitant. This is extremely concerning given the high cost of healthcare.

Vaccine Hesitancy by Healthcare Coverage  

Vaccine hesitancy by demographics

Our analysts also found that the reasons for vaccine hesitancy vary across demographics. Men are more hesitant to get the vaccine than women. And white communities have higher rates of vaccine hesitancy than most communities of color.

Vaccine hesitancy by age
Age Vaccine hesitancy
18-24 14%
25-39 14%
40-54 11%
55-64 7%
65+ 5%
Vaccine hesitancy by race
Race Vaccine hesitancy
Black 9%
White 11%
Asian 2%
Latino 8%
Vaccine hesitancy by gender
Gender Vaccine hesitancy
Female 9%
Male 11%
Vaccine hesitancy by education level
Education level Vaccine hesitancy
Less than high school 13%
High School or GED 13%
Some College/Associates degree 11%
Bachelors Degree or higher 5%

After a late-summer/early-fall surge, the number of coronavirus cases is starting to decrease. The point of this study isn’t to discuss the veracity behind someone’s reasons for not getting the vaccine but to highlight the main reasons why people across the country are hesitant to get vaccinated. It is our hope that through open and honest conversation in the media and among government and elected officials, our society will be able to provide accurate information and reduce the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Methodology:

To find the main reasons why people aren’t getting vaccinated, we looked into Household Pulse Survey vaccine hesitancy data for all 50 states. The response percentage for each reason was relative to the total number of respondents for each state, so the percentages don’t add up to 100%. Additionally, we compiled vaccine hesitancy data on demographics. The rate of unvaccinated was taken from the United States Census Bureau Survey on Explore COVID Vaccine Attitudes.