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Vaccines at Work: Americans Increasingly Support Employer Vaccination Mandates

Key Findings

  • In June, respondents’ views were generally split between whether companies should require their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine (36%) or simply encourage their employees to get vaccinated (37%).
  • Just two months later, a substantial proportion have changed their opinion, with 46% saying employers should require vaccines of their workforce, an increase of 10 percentage points.
  • However, Black Americans have not changed their opinions from two months ago, signalling hesitancy around becoming vaccinated within Black communities.

With Labor Day on the horizon, and 51% of the American public fully vaccinated as of today, many large companies have either begun to transition back to the office or are planning to. Yet, the highly contagious Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the U.S., complicating and stalling the return to work both employers and employees have been preparing for. Increasing numbers of employers are mandating vaccines in the workplace, from Google to Walmart to Tyson Foods.

Following up on our June survey asking Americans whether they think employers should require vaccinations, JUST Capital, in collaboration with The Harris Poll, has checked in with the public again, to see if opinions might have changed over the past two months.

Respondents have substantially shifted their opinions on vaccine mandates, with a plurality (46%) saying employers should require vaccines of their workforces. In June, a nearly equal percentage of respondents agreed that companies should require vaccinations (36%) as those who said companies should encourage, but not require, employees to get vaccinated (37%). However that percentage has shifted (46%, a 10 percentage point increase) in favor of employers requiring the vaccine.

When we look at different demographic groups – from political party to income to employment status – we see similar increases, with more respondents now agreeing that employers should require vaccinations stealing share from those who have said “encourage” or “not sure” in our previous survey.

However, among different demographics, the trend for Black Americans stands out – with similar percentages in June and August (27% and 28%, respectively) agreeing that vaccinations should be required. This is reflective of lower vaccination rates among Black communities, suggesting their greater reluctance about the vaccine and state-mandated medical directives, despite having faced – and continuing to face – disproportionate impacts from COVID-19.

As the Delta variant continues to evolve globally and in the U.S., JUST Capital will continue to track the actions companies are taking to keep their employees safe, as well as the perceptions of the public around returning to work and the regulations and requirements imposed by their employers. The coming months remain uncertain as Americans head back to work while contending with an increasingly contagious and deadly variant of the virus that has transformed all facets of our society over the past year. One thing is clear: safety must remain paramount among corporate priorities as we move toward a “new normal” for the American workplace.

These surveys were conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll in partnership with JUST Capital from August 9–11, 2021 among 2,052 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, and June 15–17, 2021 among 2,053 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. These surveys are not based on a probability sample, are not representative, and therefore no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Jennifer Tonti, Managing Director, Surveys & Polling at jtonti@justcapital.com.

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