University of South Florida


USF researchers release findings from statewide COVID-19 opinion survey regarding vaccine hesitancy and policy

A USF student receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on campus.

Researchers with the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs have released results from a statewide survey that helps to better understand the factors associated with vaccine hesitancy and measures policy attitudes related to COVID-19 vaccines.

Among the key findings:

A majority of adult Floridians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but many remain hesitant about undergoing vaccination. Among those adults who have not yet been vaccinated, 35.3% say that they will “probably not” or “definitely not” get vaccinated. Another 24.3% are still undecided about whether to undergo vaccination.

  • IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Among the survey respondents, 64.3% reported receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 35.7% have not. These data are provided as context for the remainder of the study, but the purpose of this survey was NOT to measure current rates of vaccination. Only those over the age of 18 were eligible to participate in this survey, so these numbers will differ from official vaccination counts. For the most accurate and up-to-date data on vaccination rates in the state of Florida, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The most significant drivers of vaccine hesitancy among Floridians include concerns over the potential side effects of a vaccine and fears that the vaccines were created too quickly. Three quarters of those who say they will “probably not” or “definitely not” get vaccinated (74.2%) indicated that they are concerned about the potential side effects of a vaccine. Nearly half (50.5%) indicated that they feel the vaccines were created too quickly. Only a fifth (20.6%) don’t believe that the vaccines are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Most Floridians have not spoken with their primary care doctor about a COVID-19 vaccine. Only a third of respondents (32.3%) report having spoken with their primary care doctor about whether a COVID-19 vaccine is appropriate for them.

A majority of Floridians have encountered misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines in the past six months. Nearly three-quarters of respondents (73.2%) reported seeing or hearing at least one of eight common misinformation themes related to COVID-19 vaccines. The most frequently encountered misinformation themes included those claiming that “COVID-19 vaccines contain a ‘live strain’ of the virus” (42.8%), “COVID-19 vaccines contain 5G Microchips” (38.5%), and “COVID-19 vaccines modify people’s genes and alter their DNA” (36.3%).

Exposure to misinformation was correlated with a decreased likelihood of undergoing vaccination. Among those who did not report encountering any of the misinformation themes, 73.8% had been vaccinated. That number fell to 62.9% among those encountering at least one source of misinformation, while only half of those (52.2%) encountering six or more false stories reported being vaccinated.

Floridians remain divided on mandatory vaccines for students. A majority of respondents agreed that Florida’s PK-12 schools should require students to be vaccinated before the fall, with 61.5% agreeing and 38.5% disagreeing. A two-thirds majority also favored mandatory vaccinations for Florida’s college students (68.8%).

Floridians are also divided on mandatory vaccines for theme park visitors. Just under a third of respondents (30.5%) said that Florida’s theme parks should NOT be allowed to require guests to provide proof of vaccination, while a similar number (30%) felt that proof of vaccination should be required for park entry. A plurality (39.5%) felt that the decision to require vaccinations should be left to individual parks.

Mandatory vaccines for cruises. Respondents were slightly more supportive of mandatory vaccines for cruise line passengers entering the state. A plurality of 43% said that proof of vaccination should be mandatory on all cruises porting in the state of Florida, while another 33.2% felt that the decision should be left to individual cruise lines.

Partisan differences. The survey responses included several notable partisan differences.  Those who identified as Democrats were significantly more likely to have been vaccinated (73.4%, compared to 58.5% of Republicans and 56.5% of Independents).  Republicans and Independents were also significantly more likely to oppose mandatory vaccinations for theme park guests, cruise line guests and students.

The survey included a representative sample of 600 Floridians, fielded June 3-14, 2021. Results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error +/-4 %.

A second round of results, which examines COVID-19 and hurricane preparedness, is set to be released within the next week.

The complete survey results can be found here.

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