Coronavirus cases are rising and a new variant has quickly spread across the country. Still, millions of Americans remain unvaccinated and say they have no plans to change that. Our team of analysts looked at the latest data on vaccine hesitancy. We found that concerns over side effects, government mistrust and indifference are the main reasons why people aren’t getting vaccinated.

Key findings:

  • 55% of people say concerns over side effects are keeping them from getting vaccinated
  • 47% of people say they don’t trust the vaccine, up from 45% in October
  • 25% of unvaccinated people don’t believe COVID-19 is a threat, up from 21% in October
  • 0.5% of people said they experienced side effects after their first dose

In Maine, 80% of unvaccinated people are worried about side effects. Nearly 57% of unvaccinated Washington residents say they won’t be getting vaccinated because they don’t trust the government. And in 28 states, 0.0% of people who got vaccinated reported any side effects. The percentages vary in each state but our team of analysts found there are five main reasons why people aren’t getting vaccinated:

    • They’re worried about side effects
    • 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%.

State % Concerned about possible side effects % Plan to wait and see if it is safe % Don’t trust COVID-19 vaccines % Don’t trust the government % Don’t think COVID-19 is a big threat % Experienced side effects from first dose
Alabama 60% 23% 51% 36% 16% 0.4%
Alaska 73% 12% 77% 56% 39% 0.6%
Arizona 59% 35% 44% 34% 22% 1.3%
Arkansas 64% 30% 53% 44% 25% 1.7%
California 46% 22% 46% 37% 25% 0.6%
Colorado 72% 39% 49% 46% 39% 0.8%
Connecticut 72% 40% 58% 44% 39% 6.3%
Delaware 49% 35% 49% 40% 26% 0.0%
Florida 53% 40% 33% 35% 23% 0.0%
Georgia 50% 35% 54% 43% 21% 0.2%
Hawaii 70% 37% 40% 37% 32% 0.0%
Idaho 60% 32% 42% 50% 38% 0.0%
Illinois 58% 40% 53% 44% 31% 0.0%
Indiana 50% 27% 52% 37% 33% 0.4%
Iowa 62% 28% 43% 33% 19% 0.3%
Kansas 61% 34% 50% 40% 23% 0.0%
Kentucky 65% 32% 48% 40% 28% 0.6%
Louisiana 60% 22% 57% 50% 23% 0.0%
Maine 80% 45% 43% 55% 50% 0.0%
Maryland 45% 36% 32% 42% 28% 0.0%
Massachusetts 59% 45% 44% 35% 35% 10.5%
Michigan 55% 24% 46% 38% 20% 0.5%
Minnesota 64% 36% 53% 45% 33% 0.0%
Mississippi 66% 13% 47% 34% 15% 0.0%
Missouri 60% 31% 50% 39% 33% 0.7%
Montana 62% 38% 56% 49% 33% 0.0%
Nebraska 49% 29% 39% 47% 16% 0.0%
Nevada 65% 41% 44% 39% 23% 0.0%
New Hampshire 51% 24% 44% 39% 43% 0.0%
New Jersey 42% 23% 46% 46% 28% 0.4%
New Mexico 34% 27% 35% 37% 12% 4.4%
New York 68% 39% 47% 46% 22% 0.0%
North Carolina 54% 38% 47% 36% 27% 1.3%
North Dakota 54% 43% 54% 49% 45% 0.0%
Ohio 50% 16% 46% 41% 26% 0.0%
Oklahoma 55% 22% 42% 41% 27% 0.5%
Oregon 53% 25% 48% 46% 35% 0.6%
Pennsylvania 52% 27% 44% 39% 16% 0.4%
Rhode Island 74% 51% 40% 57% 37% 0.0%
South Carolina 49% 27% 40% 36% 11% 0.2%
South Dakota 53% 40% 42% 37% 39% 0.0%
Tennessee 42% 22% 43% 41% 15% 0.0%
Texas 58% 31% 52% 32% 23% 0.0%
Utah 58% 32% 56% 36% 39% 0.0%
Vermont 54% 36% 26% 28% 11% 0.0%
Virginia 46% 34% 42% 30% 16% 0.0%
Washington 57% 31% 49% 57% 33% 0.9%
West Virginia 44% 37% 57% 51% 25% 0.0%
Wisconsin 49% 32% 42% 32% 31% 0.0%
Wyoming 59% 32% 51% 50% 37% 0.0%
United States 55% 31% 47% 39% 25% 0.5%

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 16%
25-39 15%
40-54 13%
55-64 8%
65+ 5%
Vaccine hesitancy by race
Race Vaccine hesitancy
Black 9%
White 12%
Asian 4%
Hispanic 10%
Vaccine hesitancy by gender
Gender Vaccine hesitancy
Female 12%
Male 10%
Vaccine hesitancy by education level
Education level Vaccine hesitancy
No high school diploma 12%
High School diploma or GED 15%
Some College/Associates degree 12%
Bachelors Degree or higher 6%

Our analysts also found that the reasons for vaccine hesitancy vary across demographics. Women are more hesitant to get the vaccine than men. Older populations are more likely to get vaccinated. And white communities have higher rates of vaccine hesitancy than most communities of color.

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.