The following report highlights findings from a survey fielded by the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy in June 2022. For the first time, we examine trends in perceptions of the severity of the pandemic among New Yorkers, booster uptake, and COVID-19 exposure preparedness. As seen in previous surveys, we also assess willingness to vaccinate in the future among unvaccinated respondents.The survey was conducted from June 24, 2022 to June 26, 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. The survey was offered in English, Spanish, and Mandarin.
Perceived COVID-19 Risk
Participants were asked if they considered COVID-19 to still be a serious public health issue in New York. On average, 53% of respondents answered “Yes.” This was similar across English and Spanish speaking respondents. However, 44% of Mandarin speakers answered “yes,” 31% answered “no,” while 25% responded “unsure.”
COVID-19 vaccination status appeared to correspond with the perception that COVID-19 remained a serious issue. Sixty-two percent (62%) of boosted respondents agreed COVID-19 was still a serious public health problem, compared to 48% of those with one dose and 28% of the unvaccinated.
Perception of severity also aligned with respondents’ experiences throughout the pandemic. Three-quarters (75%) of respondents who had a close friend or relative die from COVID-19 still considered the COVID-19 pandemic a serious issue, but just 3 out of 7 respondents (43%) who did not lose a close friend or relative felt the same. Additionally, those who either were sick with COVID-19 or knew a close friend or family member who was sick are 9% more likely to consider COVID-19 a continued public health threat compared to those who have had no experience with illness, 57% and 48% respectively.
COVID-19 risk perception also varied by county. Just over one in three (36%) respondents from the Bronx stated they had a continued concern about COVID-19, in comparison to almost two in three (61%) Kings county (Brooklyn) respondents.
COVID-19 Vaccination Status and Willingness to Vaccinate
The willingness of unvaccinated respondents to continue to consider vaccination has declined in comparison to survey data from March 2022. In June, 7 out of 10 unvaccinated respondents (71%) reported they were not very or not at all likely to consider future vaccination. The remaining unvaccinated respondents were very likely (6%), somewhat likely (4%) to consider vaccination, and neutral/unsure (19%). In March, 3 out of 10 unvaccinated respondents (32%) were not very or not at all likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the future, while nearly half of unvaccinated respondents (47%) were very likely to consider it in the future.
Main Reasons for Not Yet Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine
Eight out of ten (80%) unvaccinated respondents cited they “do not trust the quality or safety of vaccines” as their primary reason for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The remaining 20% of unvaccinated respondents stated they worried about accessing the vaccine, having time to recover from side effects, or they had a health condition preventing them from getting vaccinated.
As previously highlighted, lack of concern for COVID-19 corresponds closely with being unvaccinated: the majority (56%) of unvaccinated respondents do not believe COVID-19 is a serious public health problem, over a quarter (28%) do consider it a problem, and the remaining 16% are unsure. More specifically, hesitancy to get vaccinated due to vaccine safety concerns aligned strongly with a lack of concern for the COVID-19 pandemic. Ninety-four percent (94%) of unvaccinated respondents who did not consider COVID-19 a serious public also cited that safety concerns were their main reason for being unvaccinated.
Over four out of ten (43%) respondents have received at least one booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Booster uptake varied based on language of preference; forty-six percent (46%) of English speakers and fifty-five percent (55%) of Mandarin speakers have had 1 or more booster shots, but only fourteen percent (14%) of Spanish speaking respondents had received their booster.
This disparity in booster uptake among Spanish speakers aligns with the racial and ethnic distribution of booster acceptance. Just 20% of Hispanic respondents have received 1 or more booster shots, while other racial and ethnic groups are on par or above the overall average of 43% in their uptake. Still, eighty-two percent (82%) of Spanish-speaking respondents received two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, and only 2% remain completely unvaccinated, compared to 12% of English speakers.
Other under-boosted demographics include those without health insurance and those enrolled in Medicaid, with just one in three respondents without health insurance (33%) or on Medicaid (35%) having received a booster shot. Booster uptake appeared to increase directly with higher education level and household income. One out of three (31%) respondents with less than a high school degree have received at least one COVID-19 booster shot, compared to two out of three (63%) respondents with a graduate degree or higher.
Parental Attitudes towards COVID-19 Vaccination of Children Under 5 yrs old
The sample of survey respondents with children under 5 years old was small (n=179), which increases the margin of error in the following results. Therefore, these findings should be considered preliminary and demonstrate potential trends to be further explored. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use assistance (EUA) of the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 years of age on June 18 2022. Given we administered our June survey just a week after vaccine authorization, we chose to still assess the willingness of parents to vaccinate their children under 5 as opposed to doses already received. Over a quarter of parents were very likely (27%) or somewhat likely (29%) to get their children under 5 vaccinated. Almost one-fifth of parents (17%) reported they were not at all likely to pursue vaccination. The remaining were not very likely (14%) and neutral/unsure (12%).
Preparedness if Exposed to COVID-19
In this survey, we sought to assess the confidence of New Yorkers in knowing what to do if exposed to COVID-19. Overall, about four out of ten respondents (43%) were extremely confident that they would know what to do if exposed. This level of confidence was very similar between English and Spanish speakers, but just two percent (2%) of Mandarin speakers were “extremely confident.”
We found that being extremely confident in COVID-19 preparedness generally increases with increasing income. Only one in three respondents (35%) with a household income between $25,000 and $50,000 stated that they were “extremely confident.” In comparison, over half (53%) of respondents earning $100,000 felt confident in their next steps if exposed to COVID-19.