More than half of unvaccinated Americans believe that COVID-19 vaccines pose a greater risk to their health than the actual virus, a new poll suggests.

The survey, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), found that 53 percent of people who have not gotten the vaccine believe the shots are riskier than contracting the disease.

This view is especially prominent among those who say they’re ‘definitely not’ getting the vaccine with 75 percent of ‘definitely not’ responders believing the vaccine is more dangerous.

In fact, the virus is far more dangerous. Out of 243,000 Covid deaths reported in the U.S. since January 2021, only 1,300 have occurred in vaccinated Americans.

The polling data demonstrates the challenge facing U.S. leaders seeking to get the nation vaccinated.

Still, the Indian ‘Delta’ variant is inspiring some Americans to go get their shots. KFF found that 22 percent of unvaccinated respondents said that variant news made them more likely to seek vaccination.

Over half of unvaccinated Americans believe that COVID-19 vaccines pose a higher risk to their health than the actual virus, according to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation

In fact, the vaccines are extremely effective in protecting against Covid disease, hospitalization, and death. Pictured: A nurse administers a Covid shot at a drive-through site in Orlando, Florida, August 2021

The U.S. recently met President Biden’s goal – vaccinating 70 percent of American adults with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose – but hit the target about one month late.

As of Thursday, 58 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose and just under 50 percent are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Public health experts say that those Americans who remain unvaccinated are in grave danger as the Delta variant spreads through the U.S.

This highly-contagious variant is now causing more than 90 percent of U.S. cases – and it’s overwhelmingly unvaccinated people who are getting sick.

The vast majority of Covid hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated. The virus may also cause long-term damage to patients’ brains, lungs, and other parts of their bodies.

Out of 243,000 Covid deaths reported in the U.S. since January 2021, only 1,300 occurred in vaccinated Americans, equivalent to about 0.5 percent. 

Yet a lot of people who haven’t gotten their shots do not recognize this danger, according to the new KFF poll. 

The nonprofit health research organization has conducted regular polling on American perceptions of the Covid vaccines since the vaccine rollout started last winter.

KFF surveyed recipients who say they are ‘definitely getting’ vaccinated (or have already been vaccinated), those who say they will ‘wait and see’ how vaccinations progress, those who will only get a shot if required, and those who will ‘definitely not’ get vaccinated.

In an August 4 report reflecting surveys conducted in July, KFF examined perceptions of those Americans who have not yet been vaccinated.

About 53 percent of unvaccinated Americans believe that the vaccine poses a bigger health risk than the coronavirus itself, the pollsters found.

This includes 75 percent of the ‘definitely not’ group and 34 percent of the ‘wait and see’ group.

A small number of vaccinated Americans – about 7 percent – also believe that the vaccine is a bigger danger than the virus. 

In addition, the majority of unvaccinated Americans, 57 percent, believe that the risks associated with Covid have been exaggerated by the media.

That includes 75 percent of the ‘definitely not’ group and 43 percent of the ‘wait and see’ group. 

The majority of unvaccinated Americans (57%) believe Covid risks have been exaggerated

Despite the new dangers posed by Delta, many unvaccinated Americans continue to believe that inoculation is unnecessary.

KFF found more concern about new coronavirus variants among vaccinated Americans than among unvaccinated Americans.

About 74 percent of vaccinated Americans said they were worried about variants, compared to 39 percent of those who are unvaccinated.

Vaccinated adults were also more likely to say they’d wear a mask in public (62 percent) and avoid large gatherings (61 percent). 

Among unvaccinated adults, 37 percent said they’d be likely to wear a mask and 40 percent said they’d avoid large gatherings.

Vaccinated Americans tend to be more worried about new variants compared to the unvaccinated

Vaccinated Americans are also more likely to adjust their behavior due to variants – though the new strains are a vaccination motivator for some

Still, for some unvaccinated adults, Delta is a motivator for getting their shots.

About 22 percent of unvaccinated adults – just over one in five – told KFF that Delta news made them more likely to seek out the vaccine.

For adults in the ‘wait and see’ group, 34 percent said the variants were a vaccination motivator. A small number of adults in the ‘definitely not’ group (2 percent) said the same.

This motivation is reflected in the U.S.’s vaccination numbers, which have risen in recent weeks.

On Thursday, White House Covid Data Director Cyrus Shahpar announced that 864,000 new doses were reported that day – the highest single-day total in more than a month.

Many of the states with the worst Delta-driven surges are also the states seeing the highest vaccination increases.

At a press conference on Thursday, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator said several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma were seeing the highest levels of vaccination since April.

Federal and local governments are also taking steps to encourage vaccination. In New York City, vaccination will soon be required for indoor dining and other activities.

While it is unclear how much any one strategy is driving up vaccinations, the KFF survey data indicate that some Americans are responding to these initiatives.

About one quarter of currently unvaccinated adults said that they are likely to get their shot before the end of 2021 – including 13 percent who said they’re ‘very likely’ to get vaccinated.

Among unvaccinated adults, about 26% say they will get vaccinated before the end of 2021

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