Nearly Half of Americans Favor Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations for University Students: Study
While many are supportive, Americans remain heavily divided on the issue ahead of campus re-openings

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 17, 2021 – With college and university students preparing to go back to school, a new study of Americans shows a country generally supportive of mandatory vaccinations on campuses – but with a sizeable and strident minority adamantly opposed.

In the Argyle-Leger Confidence Report, a national survey that examines Americans’ attitudes and behaviors related to their confidence in information on key issues, 48 percent of Americans agree with mandatory vaccination requirements for college and university students, compared with 38 percent who disagree and 13 percent who “don’t know.”

Interestingly, males favored collegiate vaccination mandates more strongly than females, at 53 percent to 44 percent, respectively. Respondents age 65 and over were the only age group with more than half (57 percent) who support the vaccine mandates. Majorities of urban and suburban respondents favor the requirements, eclipsing 50 percent in both types of communities. However, those numbers are reversed in rural areas, with 47 percent opposed to such mandates and 38 percent supporting them.

“While a plurality of Americans favor vaccination mandates on campus, the real story isn’t how many support vaccine requirements or not; it’s how strongly they hold those views,” said Argyle CEO Daniel Tisch. “Much of this can be traced back to Americans’ confidence, or lack thereof, in the information they receive on the topic.”

Confidence in COVID-19 vaccines does not translate to support for university mandates

While Americans believe in the value of COVID-19 vaccines, some remain skeptical of policies mandating them. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults (64 percent) are confident in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, but 29 percent would withdraw their child from a college if it instituted a vaccination requirement.

The study reveals a glaring information gap that may contribute to this discrepancy. 24 percent of respondents didn’t know if their university required a COVID vaccine to enroll, work, or send their child. Of that group, 52 percent plan to get a COVID vaccine, but haven’t yet. This may point to a lack of information – or confidence in the information they are receiving – on the topic.

“As another recent Argyle/Leger study concluded, an overwhelming number of Americans endorse their employers’ performance during the performance,” Simon Jaworski, President of Leger USA said. “Much of this was due to the way businesses communicated during the pandemic. Universities now have that same opportunity to earn their stakeholders’ trust during a critical year in education.”

Higher education faces an inflection point

These findings put educational institutions at a challenging crossroad, but it also provides a tremendous opportunity to fill the information void with trustworthy communication and engagement. Other pertinent results include:

  • Half of Americans (51%) say they have gotten two COVID-19 vaccine shots, while 40% have not gotten any shots.
  • Among the 40% who have not gotten any shots, about 17% plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine, while 59% do not plan to get the vaccine.
  • 34 percent of those who graduated from a college, attended a college or are a current student mention that their college/university requires COVID vaccines to attend/work/send their child.
  • 23 percent of people who are confident in the vaccine have not received any shots. 8 percent of those confident in the vaccine are not planning on getting the vaccine at all.

“Distrust in information received from traditional news sources, institutions, and sources of authority has never been higher,” Tisch said. “The more educational institutions step in to fill that void, the better positioned they will be for the long-term, as more and more stakeholders look to them for information and education. Those that lead with confidence and clarity will inevitably increase trust from their core stakeholders and grow their reputational equity.”

About the study

The Argyle-Leger Confidence Report is the first in a series that will examine Americans’ attitudes and behaviors on issues related to their confidence in information, institutions, leaders, and sources of authority. This survey involved approximately 1,000 American adults, completed between July 2nd – 4th, 2021, using Leger’s online panel. A probability sample of 1,000 respondents would have a margin of error of +/- 2.6%, 9 times out of 10.

About Argyle 

For 40 years, Argyle has been chosen by the world’s biggest brands, put big ideas onto the public agenda, and grown to become one of North America’s most acclaimed reputation, communications and public engagement firms. Argyle’s clients span many sectors, including finance, technology, health care, agri-food, travel, professional services, infrastructure, government, non-profits and many more.

Argyle has more than 120 full-time employees in Washington, D.C., Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Victoria, Ottawa, with affiliates in Montreal and Quebec City, and in more than 40 countries around the world.

About Leger 

Leger is one of North America’s largest independent full-service research firms, with over 600 employees in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver in Canada, and Philadelphia in the United States. The LEO (Leger Opinion) panel is the largest Canadian panel with over 400,000 representative panelists from all regions of Canada. Leo was created by Leger based on a representative Canadian sample of Canadian citizens with Internet access.

Poll aggregator 338Canada.com gave Leger the highest rating among all polling firms in Canada for the accuracy of its studies. See https://338canada.com/pollster-ratings.htm.

About the Authors

Robert Gemmill is an attorney and one of the foremost experts in corporate reputation, crisis and risk, and litigation communications. He is Argyle’s SVP and GM in Washington, DC.

Daniel Tisch is the President and CEO for Argyle Public Relationships. He is one of Canada’s best-known communicators, having worked at senior levels in government before embarking on a 20-year consulting career in which he has advised CEOs, boards, government leaders and marketers for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Simon Jaworski, President, Leger USA

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