Nearly half of metro area residents are unsure or would not take a vaccine to combat the spread of the coronavirus if one became available, according to a new poll commissioned by Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside.
The poll, which will be released Wednesday, indicates that Long Island and New York City residents are less likely to travel, use mass transportation or attend large gatherings because of the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 80,000 people across the globe and killed more than 2,700 people, primarily in China.
But although three in four respondents said they had received a flu shot this season, only 55% would become immunized for coronavirus — also known as COVID-19 — if a vaccine became available. Meanwhile, 14% said they would not take the vaccine and 31% said they were unsure.
Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of medicine and of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital, said the data could reflect an increased reluctance among the "anti-vaxxer" community to become immunized against a virus that had quickly spread across Asia and Europe.
"I would have expected the number to be higher," Glatt said. "It is concerning that more people are not jumping to take the vaccine."
Overall, women, young people and city residents said they would be more likely to take the vaccine while men, older respondents and Long Islanders expressed greater reluctance, the poll shows.
Although pharmaceutical companies are working at breakneck speed to develop a vaccine to stop the spread of the virus, congressional lawmakers said Tuesday that a vaccine may not be available for 12 to 18 months.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 35 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide but none in New York State.
The poll, commissioned in early February, asked 600 residents — including 150 from Nassau and Suffolk — how concerned they were about coronavirus and influenza.
It found that:
* 62% of respondents have high, or very high concerns, about coronavirus, with 54% saying they are worried about it affecting their family;
* Half of all respondents are confident that federal and state governments are prepared to deal with the outbreak, while 36% disagreed and 14% were unsure;
* More than 70% of respondents are less likely to travel overseas; 48% less likely to use mass transit and 46% less willing to attend large gatherings because of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, only 51% of respondents said they had high or very high concerns about the flu. The CDC estimates there have been at least 29 million influenza illnesses so far this season with 16,000 deaths, including 105 children.