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Poll: Vaccine hesitancy at lowest level yet, thanks to mandates

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The number of American adults who say they are not likely to get a coronavirus vaccine has fallen to the lowest levels yet, according to the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index — a sign that the Delta variant, FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, and vaccine mandates are having the effect of convincing reluctant Americans to get their shots.

Only 1 in 5 Americans (20%) who responded to the survey now say they are not likely to get the coronavirus vaccine. Just 14% of survey respondents said they are not at all likely to get vaccinated, the lowest level of opposition the Axios-Ipsos poll has registered since it began surveying Americans on the vaccines.

The number of parents who say they are likely to have their children vaccinated has increased at the same time. Two-thirds of parents (68%) now say they are likely to have their children vaccinated or already have done so. Only 31% of parents said they were opposed to vaccinating their kids.

The largest driver of this shift in vaccine hesitancy appears to be private sector vaccine mandates. One in three unvaccinated Americans surveyed said full FDA approval of one or more coronavirus vaccines would make them more likely to take the vaccine. But 43% said they would be more likely to take the vaccine if their employer required it, a 10-point increase from a previous version of the survey from last month.

Survey respondents indicated that more employers are indeed requiring vaccination at their workplaces. Two weeks ago the survey found that 16% of respondents said vaccines were required at their workplaces, now that number has risen to 19%. Similarly, the number of people who said teachers or government workers where they live were being required to get the vaccine has risen from 34% two weeks ago to 40% now.

"Schools, organizations, companies, governments implementing mandates are forcing people to deal with them," Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs president Cliff Young told Axios. "That's what going on."

Overall, 72% of adults surveyed said they've already taken the vaccine and another 8% said they were likely to take it.

The remaining 20% that said they are not very likely (6%) or not at all likely (14%) to get vaccinated is the lowest level of opposition to the vaccines recorded by the poll, down from 34% in March and 23% even two weeks ago.

At the same time, concerns appear to be rising over the coronavirus. Three in five Americans (60%) say that returning to their pre-pandemic lifestyles right now would be a large or moderate risk, the highest level recorded since March.

Additionally, 78% of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak at this time and 80% are concerned about the Delta variant spreading in the U.S.

As a consequence, some Americans are returning to masking and social distancing as precautionary measures against the COVID-19 spread. Half of Americans surveyed reported that they are staying home and avoiding others as much as possible. And 69% of Americans said they are using a mask some or all of the time.

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