Poll shows strong support for requiring vaccines for teachers, first responders, and other groups

Democrats much more likely than Republicans to support mandates 

NEWS THAT THE state’s biggest health care provider systems will be requiring COVID vaccinations of their employees will likely renew debate about whether other organizations or types of businesses should do the same. 

Survey data from late last month suggest that about three-quarters of residents statewide support vaccine requirements in the public sector.

Topping the list of those who poll respondents thought should be required to get vaccinated were groups involved in education: public school teachers and staff (75 percent) and students on campus at public universities (75 percent). But first responders (74 percent), state employees (72 percent), and travelers coming to the state (72 percent) were not far behind.

Those already vaccinated or who plan to be vaccinated are even more supportive of proof-of-vaccination requirements, with support nearing or exceeding 80 percent for some groups. But among the much smaller group who said they do not plan to get vaccinated, who refused to answer, or who said they were unsure about being vaccinated, less than a third support requiring proof of vaccines. 

A partisan divide characterizes the attitudes toward vaccination requirements, with Democrats much more likely to favor vaccination requirements than Republicans and Independents. Nearly 90 percent of Democrats favor the requirements. Among Republicans, support is lower, in the mid-60s, but still a majority Independents are only slightly more inclined toward vaccine requirements, with support in the high 60s to low 70s, depending on the group. 

The percentage of residents aged 18 or older who said they were partially or fully vaccinated in the survey tracks closely with the state’s data on vaccination rates for the week in late May when the poll was fielded. 

Overall, 65 percent of residents surveyed said they were fully vaccinated, meaning they’d gotten two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the “one and done” Johnson & Johnson inoculation. Another 11 percent said they were partially vaccinated. State data for the week the survey was done found 63 percent of residents age 20 or older were fully vaccinated and 12 percent partially vaccinated. 

The poll’s subgroups provide a snapshot of the state’s vaccination profile just before the Commonwealth reopened on May 29, showing major gaps in vaccination rates by age, political identification, race, education, and income.

Meet the Author

Richard Parr

Research director, MassINC Polling Group
Older residents were more likely to say they had been vaccinated than younger residents, which makes sense given the tiered rollout of vaccine eligibility by age. Other disparities, however, seem to reflect differences in vaccine access and attitudes. White residents were much more likely to be fully vaccinated (72 percent) than Black (43 percent) and Latino (37 percent) residents, and residents with higher levels of education and income were more likely to be vaccinated than those with lower socio-economic status. Self-identified Democrats (71 percent) were more likely to be fully vaccinated than Republicans (62 percent) and independents (65 percent). Republicans stood out as one of the subgroups most likely to say they did not plan to be vaccinated (14 percent), second only to residents of the state’s four western counties (17 percent).

About the poll: These results are based on a statewide survey of 1,203 Massachusetts residents aged 18 or older. Data was collected via online survey interviewing from May 21-28, 2021, and was weighted to known and estimated population parameters for Massachusetts residents by gender, age, race, geography, political identification, and educational attainment.

Richard Parr is research director of the MassINC Polling Group.