While companies and governments around the world race to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, a survey designed by a group at Tufts University found that just 57 percent of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if one were available today.

Since the coronavirus pandemic emerged, most hopes for a return to normalcy have been pinned to the development of a vaccine that could greatly reduce the risk of infection and therefore help stop the spread of the virus. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker has said that the final phase of the state's reopening is contingent upon there being a vaccine.

But in a national survey designed and analyzed by Tufts University's Research Group on Equity in Health, Wealth and Civic Engagement, about 42 percent of respondents said they either would not get vaccinated (18 percent) or were unsure if they would get vaccinated (24 percent).

"It's really concerning that only 57% of our respondents said they would get vaccinated. It's evident that we need to begin working on a national vaccine strategy and education campaign right now -- even before we have the vaccine in hand," Jennifer Allen, a Tufts professor and co-leader of the study, said. "There is still some uncertainty, but some studies show that we need between 60 and 70% of the population to be vaccinated in order to confer herd immunity."

Tufts said that the results revealed divides in vaccination acceptance among various demographic groups. For instance, whites and Hispanics, Democrats, those with more formal education, and those with higher incomes reported being more likely to get vaccinated than Blacks, Republicans, people with less education, and those with lower incomes, the university said.