Joining the herd? U.S. public opinion and vaccination requirements across educational settings during the COVID-19 pandemic

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33 Scopus citations


With effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines beginning to be distributed across the United States, questions about who should receive the vaccine first have been the focus of public discussions. Yet, over the long-term, questions about the order of distribution will be displaced by questions about how to achieve high levels of vaccination rates. Historically, absent incentives or mandates, Americans have shown ambivalence, if not general antipathy, towards vaccinations, and vaccination rates have generally been low for many vaccines. There is evidence that vaccination requirements across educational settings are an effective policy instrument to increase vaccination rates. We administered a large national survey to assess American's attitudes towards vaccination requirements across three educational settings (daycare, K-12 schools, and universities) in general and for COVID-19 specifically. Partisanship, gender, race, rurality, and perceptions about the appropriate role schools should play in providing health services are substantive predictors of public opinion. While Americans generally support vaccination mandates across all three settings for both types of requirements, support is consistently and significantly lower for COVID19 requirements. The effect of partisanship is accentuated for COVID-19 requirements as compared to general requirements. Drop off in support between general and COVID-19 specific requirements are driven by partisanship, gender, political knowledge, rurality, and having children in the household. Nonetheless, mandates are supported by a majority of Americans. Assessing Americans’ opinions of vaccination requirements in educational settings offers an important opportunity to explore the potential of mandates as policy instrument in the government's arsenal against COVID-19 and guide public policy on the issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2375-2385
Number of pages11
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 22 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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