Covid-19 vaccine will NOT be made mandatory, says Joe Biden even as poll suggests 60% of Americans may take shot

About 39% of US adults said they 'definitely or probably would not' get a coronavirus vaccine

                            Covid-19 vaccine will NOT be made mandatory, says Joe Biden even as poll suggests 60% of Americans may take shot
(Getty Images)

President-elect Joe Biden said that people in the US will not be forced to take a coronavirus vaccine once one is authorized, but stressed that he will strongly encourage Americans to do the right thing. 

“I don't think it should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory. But I’ll do everything in my power as president of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing and when they do it, demonstrate that it matters,” emphasized Biden. He noted: “That’s why I said (that) in my inaugural speech I am gonna ask people to commit for 100 days to wear a mask. This is not a political issue. It’s become one. But if people do it for a 100 days in the middle of what will be still a raging crisis and the vaccine is able to be distributed, they are going to see deaths drop off the edge. They are going to see hundreds of thousands of people not getting sick. And my hope is they will be then inclined to say, ‘okay, it’s worth the patriotic duty to go ahead and protect other people’.”

The president-elect had earlier said that he was willing to join with the three previous US presidents -- Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama -- who have pledged to get Covid-19 vaccine in public, once approved, to demonstrate their safety to the American people. 

Over 275,000 Americans have died in the pandemic and more than 14,041,430 cases have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of December 4. 

Both Pfizer and Moderna have submitted an emergency use authorization (EUA) application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their vaccine candidates. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) of the FDA will meet on December 10 to discuss Pfizer’s EUA request. Moderna has said that the panel meeting to review its request will likely be scheduled for December 17. 

Following recommendations of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the CDC has published a report that states both healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities be offered Covid-19 vaccine in the initial phase of the vaccination program.

Over 14,041,430 coronavirus cases have been reported to the CDC as of December 4 (Getty Images)


The interim recommendation might be updated over the coming weeks based on additional safety and efficacy data from phase 3 clinical trials and conditions of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) EUA, noted the agency. “Federal, state and local jurisdictions should use this guidance for Covid-19 vaccination program planning and implementation. ACIP will consider vaccine-specific recommendations and additional populations when a Food and Drug Administration–authorized vaccine is available,” the experts wrote. 

The CDC has also emphasized that controlling the Covid-19 pandemic requires a multipronged application of evidence-based strategies. This includes universal face mask use, physical distancing, avoiding non-essential indoor spaces, increasing testing, prompt quarantine of exposed persons, safeguarding those at increased risk for severe illness or death, protecting essential workers, postponing travel, enhancing ventilation, and hand hygiene, and achieving widespread coronavirus vaccination coverage.

Intent to get a Covid-19 vaccine is up

An estimated 60% of Americans have said they would ‘definitely (29%)’ or ‘probably (31%)’ get a coronavirus vaccine if it was available today, up 9 percentage points from 51% who said this in September. About 39% reported they “definitely or probably would not” get a coronavirus vaccine, though about half of this group or 18% of US adults added they may decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. “Yet, 21% of US adults do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind,” according to the survey by Pew Research Center.

Black Americans continue to stand out as less inclined to get vaccinated than other racial and ethnic groups: 42% would do so, compared with 63% of Hispanic and 61% of White adults. English-speaking Asian Americans are even more likely to say they would definitely or probably get vaccinated (83%).

The latest poll was conducted between November 18 and 29 and included 12,648 respondents. It shows that trust in the vaccine development process has increased in recent weeks, likely due to the successful trials of Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccines. About 75% have a “fair amount of confidence” in the development process currently, compared with 65% who said this in September. “While public intent to get a vaccine and confidence in the vaccine development process are up, there’s considerable wariness about being among the first to get a vaccine: 62% of the public says they would be uncomfortable doing this. Just 37% would be comfortable,” the findings state.

Pew also asked respondents about their mask-wearing habits. About 72% of Americans said it “bothers them a lot or some” when people in public do not wear masks. By contrast, just 28% said it bothers them when a store requires them to wear a mask. “Those who are very (73%) or somewhat (61%) concerned about getting a serious case of Covid-19 are far more likely to say it bothers them a lot when people around them do not wear masks than those who are not too or not at all concerned about getting the coronavirus (29%),” explained researchers.

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