U.S. Teens and Young Adults Seek Covid-19 Vaccines, Testing, and Mandates at Rates that Rival Adults–But Rates are Defined by Political Affiliation, New Survey Finds

 A new national survey of teenagers and young adults aged 13-29 finds that nearly 75% surveyed received at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot, equal to the national rate of 76% of adults 12 or older who are partially vaccinated. The survey, conducted among 908 respondents in late August 2021 by Generation Lab and commissioned by The Rockefeller Foundation, also found that 67% of young adults aged 18-29 support vaccine mandates for students and staff at their school and/or workplaces compared to 55% among middle and high school-aged students. In a series of follow-up interviews among the unvaccinated, vaccine mandates were the number one driver of getting vaccinated. In addition, half of the young people surveyed, aged 13-29, believe that teens under 18 should not be required to get parental consent for a vaccination.  

“These findings fly in the face of rampant stereotypes that young people don’t care about Covid-19. Young people not only know that the disease threatens people they love, but are proactively taking steps to protect them—getting on board with health mandates and getting vaccinated,” said Otis Rolley, Senior Vice President for the U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation. “But we have more work to do to reach those young people who aren’t getting clear information about how the vaccine works to keep them safe. They have questions, and we all have a role to play in addressing them.”

Among teens aged 13-17, 60% said they are fully vaccinated (76% at least partially vaccinated), slightly lower than the 68% of those aged 18-24 (77% at least partially vaccinated). Yet among those who were unvaccinated, teens aged 13-17 were most likely to say they were definitely or open to getting vaccinated (62%) compared to those aged 18-24 (33%). Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) unvaccinated people aged 13-17 cited allergies and side effects as their reasons for concern about the vaccine. A similar number (38%) said they didn’t know enough about how the vaccine works and what is in it.

Attitudes diverged most clearly along political lines. Among only young Democratic-leaning respondents, 63% opposed parental consent, while only 27% of young Republican-leaning people said the same. Young Republican-leaning respondents were also 3 times more likely to say they had not been vaccinated. Among the unvaccinated, they were also more than 4 times as likely to say they definitely would not get vaccinated and more than 4 times as likely to say they don’t believe in the vaccine’s efficacy. 

“Young people are the future, so asking them directly about their views as the pandemic evolves is key to understanding future trends. Our research confirms that the majority of them know what’s going on around them and how to keep their loved ones safe. But equally important is what we’ve learned about where misconceptions need to be corrected with accurate data and real-life stories about people staying safe,” said Cyrus Beschloss, Founder of the Generation Lab. “We’re in this together. We all play a part in protecting each other and ending the pandemic.”

Additional key findings include:

  • Most young people are cooperating with public health requests and willing to get vaccinated and test regularly.
    • 6 in 10 teens aged 13-17 said they were likely to get tested every week or two if available at their school or workplace. 
    • If still unvaccinated, over 7 in 10 (76%) teens aged 13-17 said they would mask in public places to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. 
    • Over 7 in 10 (71%) college-aged people (18-24 years old) support vaccination mandates for both students and staff at colleges and indoor workplaces.
  • Unvaccinated young people’s concerns about the vaccine mirror those found in other national surveys: risk of side effects, the speed of vaccine development, and a need for more information before making a decision.
    • About 2 out of 5 (39%) unvaccinated teens aged 13-17 said worries about allergies or side effects were among the reasons they have not gotten vaccinated. The next most common reasons were that they didn’t know enough about how it works and what is in it (38%) and that they didn’t trust the information they were getting about it (31%). 
    • Only about half of teens (51%) aged 13-17 said they felt their questions regarding the vaccine had been answered. A quarter of them (26%) said their questions had only been partially answered. 
    • About 1 in 5 unvaccinated young people in both the 13-17 and 18-24 age groups said that one reason they hadn’t gotten vaccinated was confusion about the information they had received (21% and 19%, respectively).
  • Major differences in attitudes toward the vaccine and safety measures reflect differences in political identification and family behaviors across (all age groups combined).
    • Young Republican-leaning respondents were more than 5 times as likely to say that no one in their immediate family or household was vaccinated. 
    • While 72% of young Democratic-leaning respondents said their immediate family or household was fully vaccinated, 42% of young Republican-leaning respondents said the same.
  • News, internet, and family are common Covid-19 information sources.
    • 88% of teens and young adults spoke with their family members about the vaccine compared to friends (76%) and health care workers (41%). Only 15% said they had spoken with community leaders about it.

For more information about the survey, please visit The Rockefeller Foundation’s website.

About the Generation Lab

The Generation Lab is a polling and research firm studying young people and the trends that shape their world. Translating youth views and behavior for media, academia, businesses, government, and the American public through an overnight snapshot poll, or a multi-year longitudinal study, the Generation Lab pursues youth truth for clients like NBC News, Walmart, Stanford University, New America and the American public.

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation to enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal. Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to healthy and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

SOURCE The Rockefeller Foundation

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