Roughly 20 percent of Americans said they fear catching monkeypox, according to an Annenberg Public Policy Center survey released on Friday.
In contrast, 81 percent of 1,580 U.S. adults surveyed between July 12-18 are “not too worried” or “not at all worried” about catching monkeypox. The margin of sampling error is ±3.3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
As of July 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded approximately 4,907 monkeypox cases in the United States, and the World Health Organization (WHO) said this week that 98 percent of cases detected since the outbreaks have been among men who have sex with men.
Regardless, when Americans were asked whether the CDC advises that men who have sex with men are at higher risk of infection, 66 percent said it is either unknown or false, while 33 percent said it is true. Interestingly, women (23 percent) were more worried than men (15 percent) about contracting monkeypox.
“The time to reduce susceptibility to misinformation about monkeypox is now,”said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
“It is critically important that public health professionals offer anxious individuals accurate information about the ways in which this virus is transmitted and infection prevented. Vaccinating those who are at highest risk should be a national priority,” she continued.
A little over a quarter (26 percent) do not know that monkeypox spreads by close contact with an infected person, compared to 69 percent who do know. Sixty-six percent are also unsure or do not think a vaccine for monkeypox exists at all. Only 34 percent correctly know that a vaccine does exist.
Jamieson told Axios the “memories of false assurances and mixed messaging” about the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic factor into how the public is reacting to monkeypox.
“There is some suspicion scientists don’t know what they know, so that translates to higher worry,” Jamieson told the outlet.