Roughly Half of Americans Believe Students Should Be Vaccinated against COVID-19 to Attend School

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As students and teachers gathered materials to return to classrooms, a July 26 – Aug. 2, 2022 Gallup poll found about half of Americans think COVID-19 vaccines should be required for school attendance. Slim majorities favored COVID-19 vaccines for college students (54%), high school students (53%), and middle school students (51%), while just less than half supported mandates for elementary students (48%). [1]

Those percentages represent a slight decline from July 2021 when 63% supported COVID-19 vaccine mandates for college students, 60% for high school students, and 56% for middle school students. That poll excluded elementary-aged students. [1]

Parents of school-aged students were less inclined to support COVID-19 vaccine mandates than those who did not have school-aged children. Democrats were dramatically more in favor of COVID-19 vaccine mandates than independents, who were about twice as likely to support the mandates than republicans. [1]

55% were in favor of requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers and school staff in K-12 schools, slightly lower than the 63% who supported mandates in Sep. 2021. [1]

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend the COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6-months and older. [2]

All 50 states and DC require that kindergarteners entering school be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP vaccine), polio (IPV vaccine), and chickenpox (varicella vaccine). Most also require the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella) and the HepB vaccine (hepatitis B). A few require vaccination against hepatitis A (HepA vaccine), haemophilus influenzae Type b (Hib vaccine), and pneumococcal (PCV vaccine). 

However, all 50 states allow medical exemptions to exclude students from vaccine mandates: 44 states allow religious exemptions, and 15 states allow philosophical (or personal belief) exemptions. DC allows medical and religious exemptions. 

According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, 20 states have bans on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for students, while 13 states have bans on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for school employees. No state has a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place for students, though one is pending in California. But, seven states and DC require school faculty to have COVID-19 vaccinations. [3]

Discussion Questions

1. Should any vaccines be required for students to attend school? What about the COVID-19 vaccine in particular? Explain your answer(s)

2. Should medical, personal, and/or personal vaccine mandate exemptions be available to parents to exclude their children from vaccine mandates? Explain your answer(s).

3. Should employers be able to mandate vaccinations? Explain your answer(s).


1. Jeffrey M. Jones, “Public Divided on Student COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements,”, Aug. 15, 2022

2. CDC, “Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule,”, Feb. 17, 2022

3. National Academy for State Health Policy, “States Address School Vaccine Mandates and Mask Mandates,”, Aug. 8, 2022