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Data: The COVID States Project; Note: For the second question, respondents were randomly assigned one of four wordings of the question, and this chart shows the averages of the four wordings; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

There's much higher public support for government-imposed vaccine mandates than businesses' use of "vaccine passports," even if they're called something else, according to recent surveys by the COVID States Project.

Why it matters: Private businesses are increasingly responsible for making pandemic policy, but this polling suggests that it'd be much more popular for the government to take the stronger role, at least when it comes to vaccine requirements.

By the numbers: 62% of respondents said they somewhat or strongly support local, state or federal governments requiring everyone to get a vaccine.

  • Even higher percentages supported vaccine mandates for getting on an airplane or going back to university.
  • On the other hand, much fewer said they support vaccine "passports." The survey asked different versions of the question, but the results didn't change much based on wording, whether the question explicitly mentioned the term "vaccine passport" or not.
  • On average, only 27.5% of respondents said they support businesses using vaccine passports. Slightly more people support voluntary — versus required — use of passports by businesses.

What they're saying: "It seems like the public is more comfortable with mandates when they’re characterized as coming from the government," said Matthew Baum, a Harvard professor who was an author of the project.

  • "When you put businesses into the question as the responsible party ... support is just a lot lower."

Go deeper

Florida withholds funds from 2 school districts over mask mandates

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida's Department of Education announced Monday it has withheld funds from two districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' order banning mask mandates in schools.

Driving the news: Amid a surge of COVID-19 cases largely driven by the Delta variant, several Florida school districts have implemented mask mandates, despite threats from the Republican governor and state officials to withhold funds for doing so.

Aug 31, 2021 - Health

FDA's top vaccine leaders are leaving

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Two of the FDA's top vaccine regulators, Marion Gruber and Phil Krause, are leaving the agency, which was first reported by BioCentury.

Why it matters: The FDA appears to be increasingly rudderless at a crucial time in the pandemic. The agency still has no permanent commissioner and now is losing two highly regarded vaccine experts all while officials weigh full approval of the COVID-19 vaccines for adults, initial authorization for kids, and booster shots for many.

Aug 31, 2021 - Health

Pennsylvania issues indoor mask mandate for K-12 schools

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Photo: Pete Bannan/ MediaNews Group/Daily Local News via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Tuesday announced that masks will be required inside K-12 school buildings.

The big picture: The move is a reversal from his initial stance earlier this month, when he said he wanted to leave the decision on mask requirements to individual school districts, citing guidance from the CDC, which "strongly recommend" the practice: "They're not mandating it, and neither am I."