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Do Americans support Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate? Here’s what a new poll found

The president's plan will require companies with 100 or more workers to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing for employees before they can come to work.
Joe Biden 03312021
A poll found 58% of respondents support President Joe Biden’s plan to require many employers to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or weekly testing — including 41% who “strongly support” it and 17% who “somewhat support” it. (AP Photo | Evan Vucci)

Nearly 60% of Americans surveyed in a poll support President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

The White House announced last week that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is creating a rule that will require all companies with at least 100 workers to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing for their employees before they can come to work.

The plan is part of Biden’s sweeping six-pronged strategy to combat the virus in the United States. His strategy also includes a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all federal employees and “millions of contractors that do business with the federal government” and for millions of health care workers.

The Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,997 registered voters was conducted Sept. 10-13 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. It comes as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spark COVID-19 outbreaks and weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Support for Biden’s vaccine requirements

The poll found 58% of respondents support Biden’s plan to require many employers to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or weekly testing — including 41% who “strongly support” it and 17% who “somewhat support” it. Another 9% “somewhat oppose” it and 27% “strongly oppose” it.

Support was more divided along partisan lines. Among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters polled, 83% said they either strongly or somewhat support the plan, while 32% of Republican or Republican-leaning voters polled said they strongly or somewhat support it.

The poll found similar overall support for other vaccine requirements included in Biden’s six-part plan.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat support the requirement for federal employees and contractors to get a COVID-19 vaccine “without an option to opt out through regular testing,” the poll found.

Sixty percent said they either strongly or somewhat support requiring many health care workers to “get vaccinated for COVID-19 without an option to opt out through regular testing,” the poll found.

The White House said last week that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is “taking action to require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.” That would include more than 17 million people.

About Biden’s COVID-19 plan

Biden’s plan includes strategies for vaccinating unvaccinated Americans, further protecting those who are vaccinated, keeping schools open and safe, increasing testing and mask requirements, protecting the country’s economic recovery, and improving care for those with COVID-19.

The vaccination requirement for employers would affect more than 80 million private-sector workers, The White House said. Experts told McClatchy News last week that requirement would likely face legal challenges and that is raises questions about whether Biden has the authority to impose it and how it would be enforced.

Biden’s plan comes as federal officials are grappling with how to increase the country’s vaccination rates, especially in the face of the dangerous delta variant and amid concerns that other variants could pop up in the country.

Data has shown the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and death, even with the delta variant, McClatchy News previously reported. It’s still possible for fully vaccinated people to have a breakthrough case — but those infections don’t mean the vaccines aren’t working as they were not designed to prevent infections altogether.

The vaccine requirements also come after the FDA in August fully approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which was previously available under emergency use authorization. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines remain available under such authorization.

Health experts had previously said to expect vaccine mandates after a COVID-19 shot was formally approved.

“What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?” Biden said during a news conference last week. “We’ve made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is FDA approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.”