May 14, 2021 - Health

Young people demand vaccination requirements for reopening

Illustration of a syringe shaped like a checkmark against a box
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Three-quarters of people between 18-29 say vaccination should be required to return to campus or work, according to new Generation Lab/Axios polling, and 37% would refuse to come back unless those conditions are in place.

Why it matters: Young workers have put pressure on CEOs to take action on social and political issues and have plenty of capital to exert it on reopening policy.

The polling suggests that a "get the shot" ultimatum could be pretty effective.

  • Among the young people polled who aren't vaccinated, 66% said that if it was required to return to campus or work, they would get the vaccine.
  • 15% would try to switch jobs or schools, while 13% would refuse to get the vaccine and still try to work or attend school.
  • 2% said they would forge proof.

The big picture: 18-29 year-olds are the least vaccinated adult age group relative to their population size, though they've also been eligible for a shorter period of time.

  • People between 18-29 face less risk of severe infection from COVID-19, compared to older adults.

Between the lines: With 1 in 4 workers planning to look for new jobs after the pandemic, companies will feel pressured to adhere to the preferences of workers.

  • Those of young workers who have more flexibility to relocate or endure short-term unemployment could carry more weight.

By the numbers: 14% say they definitely would refuse to return to work or school without vaccine requirements, while 23% say they probably would refuse.

  • Just 25% say they definitely wouldn't refuse.

What they're saying: "I live in a very red area and a lot of people are not getting vaccinated," one respondent said. "So I know if I were to return to campus, and vaccinations were not mandatory that 90% of people would not be vaccinated. So that means our campus would have an outbreak again."

Methodology: This study was conducted from May 5-8 from a nationally representative sample of 928 respondents 18-29-year-old respondents. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percentage points. The Generation Lab conducts polling using a demographically representative sample frame of young people around the country, across educational, racial, political, geographic, gender and economic backgrounds.

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