Poll: Unvaccinated Americans Consider Vaccine Requirements a Greater Health Threat Than COVID-19

Findings on values and priorities suggest mandates may be the only thing that will change minds

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Click to download 3-page summary of the poll findings.

With more businesses, government agencies, and schools requiring vaccinations, a new national poll shows that unvaccinated Americans consider mandates a greater threat to their health and safety than being exposed to COVID-19. The poll of 956 unvaccinated adults was conducted Aug. 19-22 by Morning Consult on behalf of the de Beaumont Foundation.

Respondents were asked to choose which was a greater threat: 1) being required to get a COVID-19 vaccine to travel or enter workplaces, restaurants, sporting events, or other public spaces or 2) being potentially exposed to COVID-19 in a public space because people decline to get the vaccine. A full 66% of all unvaccinated adults chose vaccine requirements, including a majority in every demographic – age, gender, political affiliation, ethnicity, income, and geography. In addition, 79% said the freedom to be able to choose whether to get vaccinated is a higher priority for them than requiring vaccination to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“When unvaccinated adults say personal freedom is a higher priority than public safety, the time for education campaigns has passed,” said Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, president and chief executive officer of the de Beaumont Foundation. “As much as they may dislike it, for many Americans vaccine mandates are the only thing that will persuade them.”

When asked to indicate the threat level of four options, 51% said vaccination mandates and restrictions are a somewhat large or very large threat, compared with 45% for breakthrough variants like the Delta variant, 45% for the COVID-19 vaccines, and 22% for unvaccinated people.

A large majority of unvaccinated adults – 77% — said they don’t trust the federal government’s vaccine guidance. Almost all — 92% — said their opinion about the federal government over the past six months has either remained the same or decreased.

Despite their strong feelings against mandates, up to a quarter of unvaccinated adults said requirements would affect their decision to get vaccinated. Following are the things they said would have the greatest impact on their decision (percentage choosing these among their top two reasons):

For full survey results on vaccines and mandates, view slides here.


Data intelligence company Morning Consult conducted an online survey on behalf of the de Beaumont Foundation August 19-22 with 956 unvaccinated adults. Results have a margin of error of +/- 3%. The de Beaumont Foundation and Frank Luntz helped develop the survey.


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