Fears of catching COVID-19 have plummeted to an all-time low, with only 35 percent of Americans now very or somewhat concerned about contracting the virus as vaccine rollouts continue to increase nationwide.
New data from Gallup shows that just over a third of people were still anxious in March, down from a record high of 59 percent in July when states lifted stay-at-home orders and businesses reopened, sparking another wave of the virus.
This is also a sharp drop of 14 percentage points in a month, after 49 percent said they would contract the virus in February.
The dramatic shift comes as the nation’s vaccination program continues to accelerate, with nearly a third of people now having at least their first dose.
Fears of catching COVID-19 have fallen to an all-time low: Only 35 percent of Americans are now very or somewhat concerned about contracting the virus as vaccine rollout continues nationwide
The positive outlook comes because nearly a third of Americans have now received at least their first dose of the vaccine
Gallup’s most recent COVID-19 probability-based web panel survey was conducted between March 15 and March 21.
It reveals that older people are now among the least concerned about contracting the virus, with only 21 percent of Americans aged 65 and older saying they were somewhat or very concerned.
This is a 25 percentage point drop from 46 percent of Americans age 65 and older who said they were concerned about the virus a month earlier.
This age group has most likely received the vaccine, which points to parallels between the increase in the introduction of the vaccine and a decrease in concern about the virus.
In comparison, 42 percent of people ages 18 to 44 said they were still somewhat or very concerned about getting COVID-19.
While this share has also fallen, from 53 percent in February, this is consistent with the fact that the younger generations were largely ineligible for the vaccine when the study was conducted.
New data from Gallup shows that Americans’ concerns about COVID-19 capture have eased
Not surprisingly, fully vaccinated people reported less concerns about contracting COVID-19, but the same trend doesn’t apply to people who have been partially vaccinated, the study found.
While only 21 percent of fully vaccinated Americans expressed concern, this rose to 37 percent among those who received a two-dose vaccine.
This is despite the fact that the first dose offered some protection against the virus.
A CDC study last week found that the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 80 percent effective in preventing infection in health and other essential workers after just the first dose.
This increases to 90 percent two weeks after receiving the second dose.
The Gallup survey found that Americans who plan to get the vaccine but have not yet received it are most concerned about contracting the disease when it comes to differences between respondents by vaccination status.
The survey respondents also showed the most positive outlook to date about the coronavirus situation in the US.
But despite the more positive outlook, Americans are still feeling the lasting effects of the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said their lives have been disrupted to a large extent or a significant amount by the virus
Of this group, 49 percent said they were somewhat or very concerned.
It follows that people who did not plan to receive the vaccine said they were the least concerned at only 19 percent.
The study also shows that there are now fewer concerns about access to hospital services or treatment for COVID-19.
Only 22 percent of Americans said they were highly or moderately concerned about access, the lowest rate since April last year, when nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the population was concerned about it.
Only 14 percent of Americans said they were now concerned about access to COVID-19 testing, with tests now being widespread across America.
This is a marked change from April when testing was scarce and 60 percent of people feared access.
The survey respondents also reported the most positive outlook to date on the overall coronavirus situation in the US.
More than three-quarters (77 percent) of Americans said they believe the situation is getting better, up from 60 percent in February and more than double from 33 percent in January.
But despite the more positive outlook, Americans are still feeling the lasting effects of the pandemic.
Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said their lives have been largely or substantially disrupted by the virus.
This is only a small change from the 70 percent who said the same thing in February and about the same as the 65 percent in June when the nation reopened.
The overall more positive outlook comes because 32.4 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 18.8 percent are now fully vaccinated.
In total, more than 167 million doses have been administered since the first American to be vaccinated received an injection in the arm on Dec. 14.
Joe Biden is expected to announce Tuesday that all American adults must be eligible by states to receive the vaccine by April 19.
This would lift the eligibility goalpost by two weeks from the previous May 1 plan as the pace of rollout has been steadily picking up.
In total, 34 states have already opened the right to vaccination to those 16 and older, and 41 states will open it to adults before April 19 anyway.