WASHINGTON — A majority of American adults don’t trust what President Donald Trump has said about a coronavirus vaccine, according to new data from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking poll, as the share of people who say they would get a government-approved vaccine has decreased.
Fifty-two percent of adults say they don’t trust the president’s vaccine comments, while just 26 percent say they do. Twenty percent say they are “not aware” whether they trust what the president has said about a vaccine.
And when responses are broken down by party, 58 percent of adults who identify as Republicans or lean Republican say they trust what Trump has said about a vaccine, 14 percent say they don’t trust what he says, and 27 percent say they aren’t aware of what he has said about the coronavirus vaccine. Just 3 percent of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say they trust the president’s vaccine rhetoric, while 88 percent say they don’t. Nine percent say they aren’t aware.
Independents are far more likely to think like Democrats on the question of trust. Ten percent of independents say they trust what Trump has said about a vaccine, 55 percent say they don’t, and 34 percent say they aren’t aware.
Adults are also more skeptical about whether they or their families would get a government-approved coronavirus vaccine if one became widely available. The poll’s latest data show that just 39 percent of adults say they would, 23 percent say they wouldn’t and 36 percent say they aren’t sure.
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About a month ago, 44 percent of adults said they would get a government-approved vaccine, 22 percent said they wouldn’t, and 32 percent said they weren’t sure. The high-water mark on the question was from the week of Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, when 45 percent of adults said they would get a vaccine.
That number has steadily declined in the weeks since.
Trump has touted an aggressive timeline to develop and distribute a vaccine. He promised a “safe and effective vaccine this year” during his Republican convention speech, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told states to be ready for “large-scale” vaccine distribution by Nov. 1.
Trump’s re-election campaign is running television ads touting that “in the race for a vaccine, the finish line is approaching.”
Various experts have poured cold water on that prospect, including those within the administration itself, even as a handful of promising vaccines are moving through testing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s foremost experts on infectious diseases, reiterated last week that he feels “cautiously optimistic” that a safe and effective vaccine would be found by the end of the year and that doing so by Nov. 3 was “unlikely.”
There have also been reports that political appointees have tried to control messaging from scientific experts, and experts raised concerns that the Trump administration was eroding faith in public health after Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, walked back his effusive comments about the effectiveness of treating Covid-19 with convalescent plasma.
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Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Joe Biden’s running mate, said she fears that public health officials will be “muzzled” and “sidelined” during the push for a vaccine because Trump is “looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days.” And Biden has said he is “worried if we did have a really good vaccine people are going to be reluctant to take it,” because Trump “is undermining public confidence” in vaccine development.
The president has called on both to “immediately apologize for the reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric.”
Data come from a set of SurveyMonkey online polls conducted Sept. 7-13, 2020, among a national sample of 36,654 adults in the U.S. Respondents were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 1.0 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States ages 18 and over.
Ben Kamisar is a political writer for NBC News.
Melissa Holzberg is a researcher for the NBC News political unit.