Fact check: No, the CDC did not release data showing 7 in 10 Americans are declining COVID-19 vaccine

The claim: The CDC released data showing seven out of 10 Americans are declining a COVID-19 vaccine

As the vaccine rollout continues across the United States, posts emerged on social media claiming the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing a majority of Americans were declining a COVID-19 shot. 

Data shows coronavirus case and death counts have continued to decline steadily across the United States with COVID-19 vaccines becoming more widely available. However, the online posts assert CDC numbers show 70% of Americans are declining the shot. 

“Turns out CDC quietly released data showing that 7 out of 10 Americans are declining the experimental gene therapy,” reads the screenshot of a tweet shared to Facebook on May 28 with more than 500 reactions.  “While the world is trying to convince you you’re on the fringe of humanity you’re actually in the majority.” 

In the post’s comments, some users expressed skepticism about the claim. “I’d love to believe this, but I’ve yet to see any supporting evidence,” one wrote.

Similar versions of the claim have been shared on Twitter and Instagram. USA TODAY reached out to the social media users for comment.

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COVID-19 vaccines are not “experimental gene therapy,” as the post claims. And while a portion of the population says they do not want the shot, the CDC did not release data showing that the hesitancy rate is 70%. 

No evidence of data

According to May 30 data from the CDC, 40.7% of the total U.S. population (approximately 135 million people) is fully vaccinated and 50.5% (around 167.7 million) has had at least one dose.

The CDC also provides estimates on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy rates based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, which tracks vaccine rates and hesitancy. Data from May 10 shows 11.4% of U.S. adults remain hesitant about receiving a coronavirus vaccine. 

According to a May 6 study — which had not yet been peer-reviewed — vaccine hesitancy among adults 18 to 64 years old decreased from 27.5% in January to 22% in March. Reasons for hesitancy included concerns about side effects, not believing there is a need for a vaccine, lack of trust in the government or vaccines, and waiting to see if the vaccine was safe. 

There are no reports or data from the CDC showing that seven in 10 Americans are declining the COVID-19 vaccine. CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told USA TODAY via email that she is not familiar with the data presented claimed in the post. 

Nordlund pointed to two reports from the CDC: one from Feb. 12 on COVID-19 vaccination intent and reasons for not vaccinating among groups prioritized for early vaccines, and a May 11 report on demographic and social factors associated with COVID-19 vaccine initiation among adults 65 years and older. 

Neither report states 70% of Americans are declining a coronavirus vaccine. 

Polls and studies from other organizations have arrived at similar conclusions. A poll from Monmouth University released March 8 found about 25% of Americans are unwilling to be vaccinated. 

A March survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 13% of Americans would “definitely not” get a vaccine, with Republicans and white evangelical Christians being the most likely to decline a vaccine. 

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A PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll conducted May 4-10 found four out of 10 Republicans said they do not plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The poll also found roughly six out of 10 U.S. adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Our rating: False

We rate the claim that the CDC released data showing seven in 10 Americans are declining the COVID-19 vaccine FALSE, based on our research. There is no evidence to support this claim, and the latest vaccine hesitancy data from the CDC shows 11.4% of adults remain hesitant about getting vaccinated. Studies and polls from other organizations also do not support the claim that 70% of Americans are refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Our fact-check sources: 

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed May 31, COVID Data Tracker
  • Factcheck.org, March 26, Texas Doctor Spreads False Claims About COVID-19 Vaccines
  • U.S. Census Bureau, April 14, New Tool Tracks Vaccination and Vaccine Hesitancy Rates Across Geographies, Population Groups
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, April 30, Stephen B. Thacker CDC Library 
  • MedRxiv.org, May 6, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy January-March 2021 among 18-64 year old US adults by employment and occupation
  • U.S.Census Bureau, May 26, Household Pulse Survey COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker
  • Monmouth University Polling Institute, March 8, Public Satisfied with Vaccine Rollout, But 1 in 4 Still Unwilling to Get It
  • Kaiser Family Foundation, March 30, Covid Vaccine Hesitancy Drops Among All Americans, New Survey Shows
  • PBS NewsHour, May 17, As more Americans get vaccinated, 41% of Republicans still refuse COVID-19 shots
  • Kristen Nordlund, May 30, email exchange with USA TODAY
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Feb. 12, COVID-19 Vaccination Intent, Perceptions, and Reasons for Not Vaccinating Among Groups Prioritized for Early Vaccination —United States, September and December 2020
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 14, Demographic and Social Factors Associated with COVID-19 Vaccination Initiation Among Adults Aged  ≥ 65 Years — United States, December 14, 2020-April 10, 2021

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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