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  • Steven Reinberg
  • Posted September 14, 2021

Most Older Americans Believe Health Care Workers Should Be Vaccinated: Poll

Eight in 10 older Americans think health care workers should be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new poll.

Among 50- to 80-year-olds, 61% of respondents said the vaccine should be required for all health care workers. Another 19% said vaccination should probably be required. The remaining 20% oppose mandatory vaccination, the findings showed.

The results are from a nationwide poll taken in August prior to a federal push to require vaccinations for nearly all health care workers whose employers accept Medicare and Medicaid -- an estimated 17 million people.

"As our country tries to get the coronavirus under control, it's important that health care employers and health providers hear the voices of those who are most likely to turn to them for help," said Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease doctor at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor who directs the National Poll on Healthy Aging. "Those voices, overwhelmingly, are saying, 'Please get vaccinated to protect your patients and yourself.'"

Key findings:

  • Support for a vaccine requirement for health care workers was consistent among men and women, and across incomes, education levels and health status.
  • Vaccinated respondents strongly supported a requirement. More than 91% said the vaccine should definitely or probably be required of health care workers. Only 35% of unvaccinated respondents agreed.
  • Views differed by race and ethnicity: 75% of Black respondents, 57% of white respondents and 65% of Hispanic respondents favored a vaccine requirement for health care workers. Meanwhile, 9% of Black respondents, 22% of white respondents and 18% of Hispanic respondents opposed a mandate.
  • Support was strong among the oldest folks: 72% of 65- to 80-year-olds said health care workers should be required to take the jab, compared with 52% of 50- to 64-year-olds. The remaining members of both groups were evenly split, pro and con.
  • Working people over 50 were more likely to oppose a requirement for health care workers (24%), compared with respondents who were retired or not working (17%).
  • Opposition was strongest in the Midwest, where 25% said vaccination of health care workers should not be required. In the South, meanwhile, 82% of older adults said vaccination should definitely or probably be required.

Even as the federal vaccination requirement takes shape, many health care employers have been weighing requirements for their workers.

Providers at Veterans Health Administration hospitals and clinics, and in all branches of the U.S. armed forces are already subject to a requirement. Eleven states have banned vaccination mandates, according to a news release from the University of Michigan.

The online poll was conducted as part of the National Poll on Healthy Aging. Responses are based on a representative sample of 2,157 older adults.

More information

To find a vaccine near you, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, Sept. 10, 2021

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