New UMass Amherst / WCVB Poll Finds Strong Support for COVID Vaccine Mandates for Public Workers and Schoolchildren

Two-thirds of Massachusetts parents support vaccine requirements while significantly fewer childless respondents to the poll indicate such support

AMHERST, Mass. – Two-thirds of Massachusetts parents support COVID vaccination mandates for public sector workers and public schoolchildren, according to a new statewide University of Massachusetts Amherst / WCVB Poll released today. The 66% of parents who support the mandate for public sector workers and 64% who support the mandates for children attending public schools significantly outpaces non-parents, of whom 50% support the worker mandate and 43% support the child mandate.

According to the poll of 750 Bay State residents conducted Nov. 9-16, 85% of all respondents have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine themselves, with 79% reporting being fully-vaccinated. Of the respondents who said they have children between the ages of 5-11, 15% say their children have already received at least one dose, while 36% say their kids will definitely get the vaccine and another 12% say their children will probably get vaccinated. Just over one-quarter of parents (26%) say their children definitely will not receive the vaccine, and 11% responded that their children probably will not get the shot.

Overall, women exhibited higher support for the mandates than men – by 10 points for worker mandates (68-58) and 12 points for children’s mandates (65-53) – while more men support ending school mask mandates if 80% of teachers and students have been vaccinated (54-43).

“While some public sector workers have expressed anger toward the state policy requiring public sector workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and others have left their jobs due to their opposition to this mandate, the

Tatishe Nteta
UMass Amherst associate professor of political science Tatishe Nteta

requirement is quite popular in the state as 6 in 10 of the state’s residents support the policy with 50% strongly supporting the requirement,” says Tatishe Nteta, associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst and director of the poll. “From the young to the old, working class to the wealthy, across racial groups and at all levels of educational attainment, vaccine mandates for public sector workers and children attending public schools are popular in the commonwealth.”

While only 21% of Republicans support requiring children to be vaccinated to attend public schools, 58% of Republican parents indicated that their children will or probably will get the shot. Less than a quarter of Democratic parents (23%) said their children likely won’t be vaccinated, while more than half (56%) of independents said their children definitely will not get vaccinated.

Jesse Rhodes
UMass Amherst professor of political science Jesse Rhodes

“On the whole, a majority of Massachusetts residents indicate that they intend to get their children vaccinated against COVID,” says Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and associate director of the poll. “But there is a substantial fraction – around one-third of residents – who are hesitant or definitely opposed. Resistance is particularly concentrated among those who tend to have less information about the vaccine, and about the news in general – those with less education, those with lower incomes and political independents.”

Schools and Education Policies

Of the 110 respondents who said they have a child attending a K-12 school in the state, 83% said they are satisfied with quality of the schooling their child is receiving.

“Given all of the challenges faced by parents and students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the return to full-time, in-person learning has been deemed a success as the vast majority of the state’s parents of school-aged children are satisfied with the quality of schooling their children have received.”

“Parents are particularly enthusiastic about vaccine mandates for school-age children, likely because they believe such mandates are a key to keeping schools in-person for K-12 students,” Rhodes says. “Having suffered through a very difficult all-remote school year last year, parents of public school children are in a pragmatic mood about what it takes to keep schools in-person.”

All of the poll’s respondents were asked their views on a couple of topics recently under debate in some circles: who should control the content of public schools’ curricula and how much emphasis should be placed on teaching about racial inequality.

Pluralities of respondents said that parents, educators, policymakers and the broader public should have equal influence in what children are taught in public schools (44%) and that there should be more emphasis on teaching radial inequality in public schools (48%). One-fifth of respondents said parents should have the primary influence over their school’s curriculum, and 36% believe the responsibility should be kept out of parents’ hands.

Meanwhile, nearly equal numbers of respondents believe less emphasis should made on teaching racial inequality (28%) as those who feel emphasis on the issue should remain the same as currently taught (24%).

“While the question concerning the proper manner to teach our children about the nation’s long history of supporting racial inequality rages on, in the commonwealth a plurality of its residents want more not less emphasis on the teaching of race and racial inequality in our schools,” Nteta says.

Sports Gambling, Marijuana Legalization, Tsarnaev Punishment and Pats’ Success

The poll also asked respondents about their views on a handful of other issues, unrelated to COVID or education.

Ray La Raja
UMass Amherst professor of political science Raymond La Raja

“The pitchforks are out for the rich,” says Raymond La Raja, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and associate director of the poll. “Fifty-two percent strongly support a four percentage point increase to the state income tax for individuals with incomes over $1 million. Another 16% lean in this direction. That means more than two-thirds of voters are willing to increase taxes on the rich, and this hasn’t changed much over the past year.”

Support for the legalization of sports gambling in the commonwealth also increased slightly from February of 2020, from 32 to 34 points, while opposition to sports betting decreased from 32 to 26 points.

When asked whether marijuana legalization has been positive for Massachusetts, 61% of the poll’s respondents said that it had.

“Only 13% of voters say that marijuana legalization has been negative for the state,” La Raja says. “I’m fairly sure the overwhelming support for legalization doesn’t just reflect the ones consuming it.”

The poll also asked respondents about their views on the legal issues surrounding the punishment for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Half of the poll’s respondents (49%) support the death penalty as a preferred punishment for Tsarnaev, with 35% strongly supporting his capital punishment. Thirty percent of the respondents indicated they oppose the death penalty for him, with 13% strongly objecting to him being killed by the state, while about one-fifth of respondents (21%) neither support nor or oppose the death penalty in the matter.

Finally, having witnessed former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl championship last season in his first year away from Foxboro, the poll surveyed respondents about who was primarily responsible for the Patriots’ dynasty over the past 20 years. While a quarter of respondents said Brady deserves the credit for the team’s success, a plurality of 44% said Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and owner Bob Kraft all deserve equal credit for their six championships and 19 winning seasons. Only 11% credit Belichick alone, and 3% said Kraft was responsible for the Pats’ two decades of success.


This University of Massachusetts Amherst / WCVB Poll of 750 residents of Massachusetts was conducted by YouGov Nov. 9-16. YouGov interviewed 773 respondents statewide who were then matched down to a sample of 750 to produce the final dataset. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race and education. The frame was constructed by stratified sampling from the full 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year sample with selection within strata by weighted sampling with replacements, using the person weights on the public use file.

The matched cases were weighted to the sampling frame using propensity scores. The matched cases and the frame were combined and a logistic regression was estimated for inclusion in the frame. The propensity score function included age, gender, race/ethnicity and years of education. The propensity scores were grouped into deciles of the estimated propensity score in the frame and post-stratified according to these deciles.

The weights were then post-stratified on 2016 and 2020 Presidential vote choice, and a four-way stratification of gender, age (4-categories), race (4-categories) and education (4-categories) to produce the final weight.

The margin of error within this poll is 4.3%.

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at