Candice Stickle gets COVID-19 vaccine

Candice Stickle was among educators to get their COVID-19 shot March 13 at Johnson C. Smith University. Kevin McCarthy/Atrium Health

RALEIGH – Nearly two-thirds of North Carolinians worry about harmful side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, even as a growing majority say they’ll take it to get back to normal life.

A new public opinion survey released by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported that more than a quarter of North Carolinians say they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state says about 40% of adults have been at least partially vaccinated, but a significant percentage of the state is remaining cautious about its effects.

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In the survey, 53% of respondents said they would “definitely” get the vaccine, most of whom already had. Another 16% said they would “probably” get it.

Twenty-one percent said they would definitely not get the vaccine, with an additional 13% saying they would probably not get it.

Still, 63% of North Carolinians said they worry about harmful side effects, and a majority said they don’t want to be a “test case” for a new drug. A slight majority of Black North Carolinians said they would not get the vaccine or weren’t sure.

According to the survey, the top reason for people’s willingness to take the vaccine is a return to normalcy – “to get life back to normal, get people back to work, kids in school and people back together at events and celebration,” as the questioners put it.

It is unclear how many people need to receive the vaccine before Gov. Roy Cooper will end restrictions on public gatherings and businesses. He has only said that vaccines “get us closer” to moving past the pandemic.

The state Democratic Party is going further. The party posted a message implying the state can’t return to normal until all people are vaccinated.

“The sooner everyone is vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to safely gathering with loved ones,” the party wrote on Twitter.

The state’s vaccination efforts hit a hiccup this week. Clinics in Wake and Orange counties halted distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 8 after more than a dozen recipients had “adverse reactions.”

In the survey, most people did not state a preference for which vaccine they would like. Of those who did, 56% said they wanted the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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