A majority of Americans support requiring students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to school, a recent poll found.
A Gallup survey released June 11 found that 61% of Americans polled support requiring college students to be vaccinated, 56% support requiring high school students and 51% support requiring middle school students to get a COVID-19 shot.
The poll was conducted May 18-23 based on a sample size of more than 3,500 Americans.
The survey was taken after the Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children as young as 12 years old on May 10. Moderna is also seeking authorization to vaccinate kids ages 12-17.
Respondents who have been vaccinated are more likely to support requiring students to get a shot compared to those who don’t plan to get a shot.
Of the Americans who have been vaccinated, 68% support mandating middle school students to get vaccinated, while 74% and 79% said the same for high schoolers and college students, respectively.
Meanwhile, of those who don’t plan to get vaccinated, 7% back requiring middle school students to get inoculated and 8% and 9% said the same for high school and college students, respectively.
Democrats are also more likely than Republicans to support requiring vaccination.
Of the Democratic respondents, 77% support requiring middle school students to get a shot, 84% support requiring high school students and 88% back requiring college students.
Among the Republicans who responded, 22% support mandating middle school students get vaccinated, 26% support high school students being required to get vaccinated and 31% support the same for college students.
While school districts don’t have the power to require student vaccines, state or health officials can, according to Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a public health law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, The Wall Street Journal reported.
New York City, however, will have the authority based on a 2018 court case about flu vaccinations giving city officials the power to require student vaccines, according to the publication.
“This is an area that is already simply pretty highly regulated,” Reiss said.
However, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said COVID-19 vaccines can’t be mandated due to emergency-use authorization status, according to Education Week.
“You cannot mandate any of these vaccines yet, because they are all emergency-use authorization,” Cuomo said in May. “A state cannot mandate a vaccine that is authorized by emergency use. It has to receive a full federal approval first.”
Sharon Masling, partner at law firm Morgan Lewis, said: “Like everything with COVID, this is going to be a school district-by-school district decision,” according to CNBC.
“Some school districts are going to want to be aggressive and see requiring vaccines as the way back to normal, whereas other school districts may want to move more slowly, especially in areas where there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy,” she said.
As of June 15, at least 174 million Americans, or 52.6% of the population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including nearly 146 million who are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.