Pew Research: 66% of young adults have gotten COVID-19 vaccines

But a divide exists among those who lean conservative.

New data released by the Pew Research Center and Statista show both the embrace of COVID-19 vaccines among young adults, including those in the college-age range, and their ability to stave off the most serious outcomes.

Overall, 66% of 18-to-29-year-olds in the Pew study conducted in late August have received at least one dose of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Those numbers trail all other populations, though that group did get a later start in being able to receive doses (30-49 is at 69%; 50-64 at 73%; and 65+ at 86%).

College graduates are far more likely to have started and completed the vaccination process than those who have little or no postsecondary education. Between 81% and 89% of grads and postgraduates have gotten doses, while 69% and 66% of those with some college or high school or less, respectively, have been vaccinated.

As with most polling around sensitive issues in 2021, the Pew study further delineated its data by political affiliation:

  • More than 80% of Democrats in all age groups said they have gotten doses, including 81% of those ages 18-29 and 94% of those 65 and over.
  • The Republican-leaning adults surveyed were all over the map: 80% of those 65-and-over got doses, while just over 50% among those 30-64 had. The group with the lowest total was 18-29-year-olds at 45%. It is notable that 77% of postgraduates and 66% of college graduates who lean Republican have already gotten vaccinated.

The lack of vaccine doses among conservative-leaning 18-to-29-year-olds might be explained in part by this stance from a student who participated in a survey done by Kaplan and College Pulse on mandates at colleges and universities. He said, “If I have a 99.9 % survival rate from COVID and a healthy immune system, why would I ever be concerned?”

According to data from Statista, the numbers do show that younger generations are doing far better in terms of mortality than those over age 50. Of the 670,000 total deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, around 3,200 persons in the 18-29 age bracket have died from complications of the virus (or 4.8%).

Still, public health officials have raised concern about the implications of COVID on even healthy individuals, particularly long-haul symptoms, as well as whether future variants could be sparked by a lack of vaccinations. Long-haul effects of the virus are still being investigated. Although those under 40 seem to be less likely to suffer long-term outcomes from COVID-19, several subgroups may be potential targets, including persons of color, women and those with underlying health risks.

More than 1,000 colleges and universities have enacted vaccine mandates since the spring, though three-quarters have opted to go without them this fall.

Around the nation

Florida: The University of Miami, which does not mandate undergraduate students get COVID-19 vaccines, is requiring them to get flu vaccine shots. “This year, especially, with the pandemic, one of the things we wanted to avoid was having people with double viral pneumonia,” said Dr. Emilio Volz, Director of Student Health Services at UM. Faculty and staff also will be mandated to get flu doses and were required to have COVID-19 doses for the fall.

Hawaii: University of Hawaii system officials say COVID-19 vaccines will be required for spring registration. In January, there will be no option for students to provide negative tests for entry. More than 90% of students within the UH have been vaccinated.

Ohio: Republican Rep. Kyle Koehler has proposed legislation (HB 424) that would ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates at public universities in Ohio. A similar bill failed to get support, but Koehler’s bill does not include private businesses. Koehler says the proposal does not apply to other vaccines, just COVID-19. Many of Ohio’s universities have signed on with vaccine requirements—though they only did so in the past month. They give students three exemption options: religious, medical and philosophical.

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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