According to a recent survey from Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern, only 66 percent of people say they plan to get vaccinated once it's available. WGBH News Morning Edition Host Joe Mathieu spoke with David Lazer, a professor of political science and computer and information science at Northeastern University, about the survey and what it could mean for the rollout of a vaccine. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: Is the hesitation to get vaccinated just an extension of the existing anti-vaxxer movement?

David Lazer: There is likely a relationship there. Many of the same categories of people who have low trust in medicine, science and in our institutions generally are the same ones who are hesitant about a COVID-19 vaccine.

Mathieu: So this comes down to a matter of trust with the government, with science, with doctors?

Lazer: Yes, trust is key for so many things in modern society. But certainly with medicine, whether you do as you're asked or suggested to do is going to depend on whether you trust your doctor, whether you trust the FDA [and] whether you trust the government. So trust is absolutely essential here.

Mathieu: I wonder as well how much people are reacting to the idea of a race — that we're trying to get something on the market as quickly as possible. You hear people say, "Well, I might not take the first one. Maybe the second one."

Lazer: Yes, I think that in some sense, the results of this survey are hypothetical — that is, you have to envision the circumstances under which we get to a vaccine — and some people right now might be worried that the process is being hurried, and thus they're adopting a wait and see rather than rejection of the notion. That's really hard to tell from the survey.

Mathieu: Does it fall along political lines? And I ask that knowing that President Trump has framed the vaccine as the holy grail here.

Lazer: Interestingly, yes, there is a significant partisan divide. But Democrats tend to be more enthusiastic about taking a vaccine and Republicans less. It will be interesting to see how this develops through the fall because if the president continues to enthusiastically embrace the vaccine and saying it's about to happen, it may exacerbate concerns that it's being rushed among Democrats, but may not underline the concerns of Republicans. So we may get a flip during the fall. But right now, we see Democrats being more likely to say that they would be vaccinated and Republicans less.

Mathieu: Men and women differ on this as well?

Lazer: Yes. Interestingly, men are around 10 points more likely to say that they would be likely to get vaccinated. We're still exploring the reasons for that.

Mathieu: That's a head scratcher, isn't it?

Lazer: It is interesting, and we're trying to see how this connects to issues like parents and whether there are certain constituencies, especially among mothers, that are anti-vaccine. But we're still digging into the problem.

Mathieu: Fascinating. At some point people need to be reminded of the whole swine flu vaccine fiasco in 1976. We talk about anti-vaxxers [and] people think about contemporary politics. But it was that effort — this is the President Ford campaign — where this vaccine ran into some problems and really became the beginning of the modern anti-vax movement. Do you see it that way?

Lazer: I'm familiar with that episode. I can't say I have a full historical grasp of the trajectory of the anti-vaccine movement, but certainly that highlights the challenges that developing and rolling out a vaccine quickly can confront, and also how it can backfire and undermine trust. It's something that I hope that the government is very careful about. We all want of an effective vaccine out as quickly as possible, but there are processes around the phases of testing to make sure that a vaccine is safe. And so I think you're exactly right that the swine flu episode highlights why it's important to dot your I's and cross your T's to make sure everything goes as smoothly and as safely as possible.

Mathieu: When you think about, with all that said, the number of companies pursuing a vaccine, several of them are either in or entering phase three trials. Does this process worry you, or is this the best of the best pursuing something that will help save the world?

Lazer: Well, certainly this is what we want, right? We want many companies [and] we want many efforts to develop vaccines because any single effort is likely to fail. Actually, most of the efforts are likely to fail, so we really need many credible efforts pushing through the phases. But phase three is a key one in terms of evaluating safety in large numbers of people. Sometimes there can be negative things that are fairly rare but are very consequential, and so you need very large scale safety trials. That's possible to do even with many vaccines in the pipeline, and so what you really want is many efforts in parallel. Usually with medicines or vaccines, you do just a few things at a time, and that means it takes years before you finally land on one that is effective, at least for novel vaccines. And we'd really rather not wait years for a vaccine here.

Mathieu: Well, that's for sure. It sounds like we could end up, though, and likely will end up with several competing vaccines. Is that a problem or is that a good thing, to your point?

Lazer: Well, my guess is it's some of both. There may be vaccines of varying effectiveness. It may be the first vaccine that's approved turns out not to be the most effective vaccine, so you can envision that there will be a complicated rollout where there may be multiple vaccines that are safe but have varying effectiveness. And one hopes so, but that may make the messaging and communication strategies all the more complex come whenever that is.