A new survey released by the state Friday morning indicates that 88% of Coloradans may get the vaccine and 62% have either received it already or are planning to, signaling significant shifts in vaccine trust and uptake since early fall.
In September, the state conducted a similar survey and found that just 32% of the state intended to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Thirty-four percent took up a "wait and see" attitude, and an identical percentage said they would not be vaccinated.
Now, three months into the state's vaccination distribution efforts, those numbers have swiveled markedly. Now, 18% of respondents to the survey said they were waiting and seeing. Twenty percent said they either wouldn't get vaccinated or would only receive a jab if it were required.
“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective as evidenced not only by clinical trials, but nationally, many millions have already received the vaccine,” Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of the state's Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a statement. “... As more and more Coloradans are getting vaccinated and more and more Coloradans are excited to get vaccinated, we are that much closer to getting back to work and school, back to spending time with family, and back to a more normal life.”
The survey was conducted between Feb. 17 and March 1, and researchers interviewed 810 participants. An additional 93 interviews were conducted with Black residents, plus 75 more with low-income individuals over the age of 65.
The results come as the state has drastically improved its vaccine distribution efforts, as supply from the federal government and vaccine makers has improved. The entire state will be eligible for doses by mid-April.
On Friday, just after the survey results were released, the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System extended its eligibility to all enrolled veterans, regardless of health problems or age. That covers more 130,000 veterans.
Still, even the 62% of residents who either have or immediately will get vaccinated is still too low to hit the 70% minimum threshold that experts say is needed for herd immunity. The finding that 88% of residents are considering the vaccine is a boost in the correct direction, though.
The findings also clocked shifts within specific demographic groups, a promising sign after state officials spent several weeks banging the drum on vaccine equity and ensuring trust in inoculations. According to the survey, 23% of Hispanic women said in September that they'd get vaccinated as soon as possible. Now, that number has climbed to 43%.
For Hispanic men, that shifted from 35% in September to 62% now. Fewer than a quarter of Black respondents in September said they'd get it as soon as they could; that number's now 47%.
The numbers have also chugged upward for younger residents, a demographic that has also been a concern for officials, given younger people's relative safety from death or severe COVID. In September, 23% of young women and 32% of young men said they'd get inoculated as soon as possible. Now, those numbers are 46% and 50%, respectively.
The improvements validate what some experts and officials have hoped for: that as the vaccine is more widely used, and no serious side effects emerge, then more people would trust its safety and efficacy. Gov. Jared Polis has said in the past that the state would likely have to step up its messaging campaign in the coming weeks, as the general public — and many young people — are eligible for doses.
Still, there are questions that remain on that front, the survey found: Forty-two percent of respondents had questions about why the vaccine was safe, along with 46% who had questions about if the vaccine would protect them.