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A Majority of People Say They Would Get a Zika Vaccine If It Were Available

A majority of people said that they would be likely to get a vaccine to protect them against Zika virus if it were available, according to a new Zika survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania.

The survey found that 55 percent of people said they’d be “very” or “somewhat” likely to get a vaccine for Zika if it were available, while 42 percent said they’d be “not too likely” or “not likely” to get it.

People who mistakenly think that contracting Zika is likely to result in death were significantly more likely to say they’d get a vaccine if it were available than those who don’t think that (66 percent vs. 49 percent). And those who are concerned that Zika will spread to their neighborhood were significantly more likely to say they’d get a vaccine if it were available than those who are not concerned about Zika in their neighborhoods (65 percent vs. 44 percent).

No vaccine currently exists for Zika, and 76 percent of those taking the survey know that.

The phone survey of 1,008 U.S. adults was conducted from May 5-9 for APPC by the research firm SSRS. It has a margin of error of +/-3.7. It is one in a weekly series of Annenberg Science Knowledge (ASK) surveys conducted since February by the Annenberg Public Policy Center on public knowledge about the Zika virus, support for public policies on Zika, and related issues.

When will a Zika vaccine be available?

Asked when they thought there would be a Zika vaccine available to the U.S. public:

  • 9 percent of the survey respondents said by the end of the summer
  • 19 percent said by the end of the year
  • 29 percent said sometime in 2017
  • 26 percent said not for at least three more years
  • 7 percent said they don’t think scientists will be able to develop a vaccine.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said this month that NIAID plans to begin tests of a Zika vaccine in September 2016 with the hope of starting a large efficacy study in 2017 in a country with a high rate of infection. That vaccine study “should take anywhere from one year to three years to prove that it works or does not work,” Fauci said at a briefing at a Pan American Health Organization conference on Zika.

In the survey:

  • 45 percent of those responding said incorrectly that it is likely that someone who contracts Zika will die as a result. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, the illness is usually mild and most people who contract it do not have symptoms. The illness is of greatest concern to pregnant women because it can be passed on to the fetus. Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and other “severe fetal brain defects,” the CDC said.
  • 55 percent of those surveyed expressed concern that Zika will spread to where they live. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary carrier of Zika, is present in about 30 states, more than twice the number previously thought, a CDC official said in April. The potential range of the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which can transmit the disease, extends across the southern and eastern United States and Puerto Rico – and in the case of A. albopictus, through the Midwest – but is not thought to cover all 50 states, according to the CDC.

The Zika outbreak was reported last year in Brazil and has spread through Latin America. As of May 11, there were a total of 503 travel-associated cases of Zika in the continental United States, 48 involving pregnant women and 10 involving sexual transmission, according to the CDC.

For more on the questions and data, see the Appendix. To download this release, click here.

The survey results were cited by Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in a recent blog post, “Snapshots of Life: Portrait of Zika Virus.”