The following report highlights findings from a survey fielded by the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy in March 2022. We examine trends in vaccination sentiments and willingness to vaccinate among unvaccinated New Yorkers. The survey was conducted from March 20 – March 21, 2022, with 1,000 participants across nine New York counties: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Nassau, New York (Manhattan), Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester.
COVID-19 Vaccination Status and Willingness to Vaccinate
Sixty-five percent (65%) of survey respondents had already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; the remaining 35% were still unvaccinated. Among unvaccinated respondents, over half (60%) reported they were somewhat or very likely to get the vaccine in the future (12% and 48%, respectively); 9% felt unsure. One third (32%) of unvaccinated respondents reported that they were not likely to get vaccinated at any point. These data indicate a continued need to explore the potential vaccine motivations among those who are still considering the vaccine and mitigate any persistent barriers to vaccination.
There is minimal variation across demographic groups in COVID-19 vaccination rates though some groups may be more willing to consider future vaccination. For example, unvaccinated older adults (45 years and older) could be more likely to get vaccinated than their younger counterparts (54% vs 43% respectively). Among unvaccinated male respondents, 58% said they were very likely to get it in the future, compared to 40% of unvaccinated female respondents. Vaccination rates are fairly similar across race and ethnicity, but continue to be highest among white/caucasian respondents (68%). Willingness to become vaccinated was highest among unvaccinated respondents who identified as African American or Black (72%) and Hispanic or Latino/a (84%). Those with higher levels of education (some college experience, a Bachelor’s or Graduate degree or more) have the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates. Although only 44% of respondents with less than a high school degree were vaccinated, this group had the highest likelihood of getting the vaccine in the future (76%).
Parental Attitudes towards Child COVID-19 Vaccination
The sample of survey participants with children was small (n=263) which increases the margin of error when presenting results. The following data are therefore exploratory and meant to point out possible trends.
Among parents with unvaccinated children aged 12 to 18 years, over half (53%) were very likely or somewhat likely to vaccinate their children for COVID-19 in the future (26% and 27%, respectively); 7% felt unsure. Forty percent (40%) were not very likely or not at all likely to vaccinate their child (13% and 27%, respectively). But parents of younger children (ages 5-11 years old) seemed to be less willing to vaccinate their children in that age group. More data on parental attitudes are reported elsewhere in an accompanying blog post (Parental Attitudes Towards COVID-19 Vaccination and Policies
Vaccination Status and Public Health Policies
Vaccinated respondents were closely divided in their support for ending the indoor mask policies in New York (39% support; 41% oppose; 20% unsure). Over half of unvaccinated respondents (58%) supported ending indoor mask policies compared to a quarter (26%) unvaccinated respondents who oppose; 16% were unsure.
When asked if they supported COVID-19 vaccination requirements for school enrollment, respondents who were unvaccinated or unwilling to be vaccinated in the future were most likely to be opposed. Parents with unvaccinated children who reported unwillingness to vaccinate their child(ren) were the most opposed to a school-based mandate (1%-4% depending on child age group with higher opposition for younger children). While the data are meant to be exploratory, there may be an indication that any school-based COVID-19 vaccination policies will meet resistance without increased parental engagement on the issue.
Chronic Conditions and Vaccination Status
Participants were asked if they were diagnosed with any chronic conditions – those with and without chronic disease(s) had similar vaccination rates (about 65% consistently). Sixty-nine percent (69%) of unvaccinated respondents with chronic disease(s) reported that they are likely to get vaccinated for COVID-19 in the future. Nearly half of respondents (48%) with asthma or another respiratory condition reported falling ill with COVID-19 disease at some point during the pandemic. Despite high risk underlying conditions, only half (53%) were vaccinated against COVID-19. Additionally, unvaccinated respondents with cardiovascular disease were the least likely to be willing to accept COVID-19 vaccination in the future (56% said they were not likely at all to accept vaccination).
These data demonstrate a need to better understand the barriers to vaccination among vulnerable New Yorkers with chronic conditions. It is possible some individuals have unaddressed concerns about how vaccination will impact their conditions; or they worry about medical coverage and additional bills; perhaps some are overburdened with frequent medical appointments and getting the vaccine has not been a priority. All possibilities pose access issues and highlight the continued importance of emphasizing vaccination as protection from serious illness and death for those at higher risk.
Health Insurance and Vaccination Status
Those without health insurance continue to be the least likely to be vaccinated. Forty four percent (44%) of uninsured respondents are vaccinated compared to 67% of those who are insured and vaccinated. When asked about their attitudes towards school-based vaccine mandates as well as willingness to vaccinate their children, those without health insurance were not significantly opposed to vaccination. In fact, 68% supported school-based requirements for the COVID-19 vaccine. This may indicate persistent barriers to COVID-19 vaccination such as confusion about whether COVID-19 vaccination is free, or whether showing proof of insurance or documentation status is required. For this vulnerable group, it is important to continue to convey the key message that insurance and payment are not required for COVID-19 vaccination.
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About the New York Vaccine Literacy Campaign
Launched in May 2021, the Campaign was developed by CONVINCE USA and a team of faculty and staff at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. Our mission is to lighten the load of community and direct service organizations by increasing community-level access to vaccine education. The NY VLC provides tools, training, and capacity building resources to community partners. This work is supported by the New York Community Trust, the Altman Foundation, and the New York State Health Foundation.
About CUNY SPH
The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) is committed to promoting and sustaining healthier populations in New York City and around the world through excellence in education, research, and service in public health and by advocating for sound policy and practice to advance social justice and improve health outcomes for all.