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Poll: Kentuckians Split On COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements for Schools and Workplaces

Indian Trail Elementary School nurse Bobbie Lester was the first JCPS nurse to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Indian Trail Elementary School nurse Bobbie Lester was the first JCPS nurse to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

Kentuckians are fairly evenly split on whether schools and workplaces should require students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a poll the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky released Friday.

The poll found 47% of Kentuckians thought it would be a “good idea” to require the COVID-19 vaccine for students to attend in-person school, while 50% thought it would be a “bad idea.” 

Meanwhile, Kentuckians are slightly more favorable to the idea that businesses should require employees to get vaccinated before returning to work in person: 52% said they thought it was a “good idea,” while 44% said they thought it was a “bad idea.” 

The poll surveyed 807 adults by telephone between Feb. 11 and March 12 — before the Pfizer vaccine gained authorization for use in children ages 12-15. Researchers say the margin of error is 3.5%.

Researchers say they did not present results by race due to the “small number” of Black respondents.

Households with children less likely to favor school vaccination requirements

While overall households were fairly evenly split on student vaccination requirements, adults in households with children were much less likely to think it was a good idea.

In households with children, less than a third of adults favored school vaccination requirements, while in households with no children, more than half did. This tracks with national polling in April by the Kaiser Family Foundation, showing less than a third of parents of 12- to 15-year-olds would get their child vaccinated as soon as it was available.

Allison Adams, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s vice president of policy, said she doesn’t think the data means that parents are necessarily opposed to getting their children vaccinated.

“They're just worried that a [school] requirement might come before they feel comfortable with the vaccine,” she said.

Adams said the polling shows the “opportunity to provide information and have people change their mind about receiving the vaccine for themselves and their children.”

WFPL News reported Thursday that so far, state officials have no plans for a school vaccination requirement. 

Democrats, the elderly and people in poor health more likely to favor requirements

The polling showed Kentucky Democrats were far more likely than Republicans and independents to favor vaccine requirements in schools and workplaces. More than two-thirds of Democrats favored a vaccination requirement for students. Meanwhile, a virtually equal share of Republicans said they thought it was a “bad idea.”

In workplaces, 74% of Democrats said they thought it was a good idea for businesses to require their employees to get vaccinated, while 64% of Republicans thought business vaccination requirements were a bad idea.

Adults under age 30 and adults over 65 were also more likely to favor school and workplace requirements. People who describe themselves in “fair” or “poor” health were also more likely to say workplace vaccination requirements were a good idea, while people in “good” or “excellent” health were fairly evenly split.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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