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Most support vaccine mandates for U.S. teachers and health care workers, new poll finds

Here’s what Americans also think about when life could return to normal.
Most Americans support COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates, a new poll finds. (Rahmat Gul | AP)

Most Americans are in favor of requiring that teachers and health care workers get COVID-19 vaccines, a new poll finds.

The majority of people are also in support of vaccination mandates for other school workers and federal government employees, according to figures released Wednesday from the Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey.

While the vaccine mandates were more popular in states that President Joe Biden won the majority in the 2020 election compared to the ones he lost, the difference was never more than 5 percentage points. Also, most Americans showed support for requiring precautionary measures such as social distancing and face masks, results show.

“The current poll shows majorities of residents in both red states and blue states support some type of COVID control measures, and that includes many of the mandates proposed by the president last week,” Patrick Murray, director of the polling institute, said in a news release.

Americans in recent polls have maintained support for vaccines after Biden announced that the U.S. Department of Labor would make a rule in which companies with more than 100 workers would have to mandate the shots or require COVID-19 testing each week. It’s part of a larger plan that also calls for people who work for the federal government to get vaccinated to help combat the coronavirus amid spikes in cases driven by the delta variant, McClatchy News reported.

This week, the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index said three in five people supported Biden’s vaccine mandate, though results were split along party lines. In another poll, Politico/Morning Consult found almost 60% of registered voters backed Biden’s plan, which also split results politically, McClatchy News reported.

To come up with its findings, the Monmouth University Polling Institute said it surveyed a “random sample” of 802 adults via phone from Sept. 9 to 13. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

What do the latest results show?

The Monmouth poll found 23% of people think Americans are doing a “good job” at handling the coronavirus, compared to 65% who viewed the public’s response as bad. That marks “the most negative rating Monmouth poll participants have given to their fellow Americans since the pandemic started in March 2020,” officials said.

That worsening attitude is also seen in how long Americans predict the pandemic will last. Only 3% of people expected it to end within two months and 8% said by the end of 2021. That’s a “steep decline” since March, when 61% of polled Americans thought life would return to normal by the end of this year, results showed.

Overall, 66% of Americans supported requiring teachers, students and school workers in their states to wear masks. That’s compared to 32% who were opposed.

Also in schools, 60% were in favor of requiring staff to get vaccinated, compared to 36% who were against the idea. A smaller share — 51% of Americans — backed a mandate for students older than age 12, who are old enough to receive COVID-19 shots.

For health care workers, 63% supported vaccine mandates and 36% were against them, according to the poll results.

But the results varied by political party, with more Democrats in favor of coronavirus-related requirements than Republicans.

For example, 90% of Democrats favored the health care worker mandates compared to 35% of Republicans. When considering how the country voted for president last year, 65% supported the idea in blue states and 60% did in red states, figures show.

The results were released as school board meetings and hospitals across the country have been the sites of protests against vaccine or mask requirements, even as patients sick with the delta variant fill intensive care units.

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