One in 10 U.S. adults feel their religion prohibits COVID-19 vaccination, while 13% say getting vaccinated violates their personal religious beliefs.
Among those who say they will not be vaccinated against COVID-19, 52% say obtaining a vaccine would violate their personal religious beliefs, while 33% say doing so would conflict with their religion’s teachings.
Nearly one-third (31%) of unvaccinated adults plan to seek a religious exemption (or have already done so), while 20% plan to do so for their children.
A majority (59%) of all respondents feel that too many are citing religion as an excuse to not follow vaccine requirements, while 60% feel that there are not any valid religious reasons for refusing COVID-19 vaccination.
Even so, the U.S. public has mixed feelings regarding religious exemptions to vaccination requirements.
A majority (51%) strongly favor (20%) or favor (31%) “allowing individuals who would otherwise be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to refuse, if doing so violates their religious beliefs.” By comparison, 29% oppose and 18% strongly oppose doing so.
At the same time, a majority (54%) strongly oppose (23%) or oppose (31%) “allowing children to attend public schools without receiving required vaccines, if getting those vaccines violates their parents’ or their religious beliefs.” By comparison, 26% favor and 18% strongly favor this.
Similarly, a majority (52%) strongly favor (24%) or favor (28%) allowing companies to terminate employees who refuse to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination, while 19% oppose and 29% strongly oppose this.
“Majorities of Americans say religious exemption should be granted if someone has a document from a religious leader (51%), a record of refusing other vaccinations (55%), or belongs to a religious group that has a record of refusing other vaccines (57%),” the report said.
Most unvaccinated respondents seem to have made up their mind, as a strong majority said it “would make no difference” in response to a series of questions related to possible influences on their decision.
For example, 69% said a close friend or relative being vaccinated would not impact their decision to get the vaccination or not. While 12% said this would make it much more (4%) or somewhat more (8%) likely that they’d be vaccinated, 17% said it would make it somewhat (3%) or much less (14%) likely that they’d do so.
Similar patterns emerged when asked about a trusted health care provider being vaccinated, with 70% saying it “would make no difference,” 15% that they’d be more likely and 14% less likely to do so.
Regarding a fellow religious community member being vaccinated, 75% said it wouldn’t matter, while 5% said it would make it more likely and 17% less likely.
The influence houses of faith might have in encouraging vaccination among those who are hesitant or resistant to be vaccinated seems limited. Most unvaccinated respondents said a variety of hypothetical actions undertaken by religious congregations would not influence their decision:
- Held a forum to discuss vaccine safety: 73% “would make no difference”
- Assisted in scheduling vaccination: 73% no difference
- Created informational resources about vaccines: 74% no difference
- Addressed concerns about vaccines: 73% no difference
- Health care professional in their house of faith addressed concerns: 71% no difference
- Corrected misinformation about vaccination: 72% no difference
- Encouraged by religious leader to be vaccinated: 72% no difference
- Served as a vaccination site: 73% no difference
In many cases, the actions were more likely to discourage than to encourage vaccination:
- Held a forum to discuss vaccine safety: 8% more likely; 18% less likely.
- Assisted in scheduling vaccination: 7% more likely; 19% less likely.
- Created informational resources about vaccines: 7% more likely; 17% less likely.
- Addressed concerns about vaccines: 8% more likely; 18% less likely.
- Health care professional in their house of faith addressed concerns: 8% more likely; 18% less likely.
- Corrected misinformation about vaccination: 7% more likely; 19% less likely.
- Encouraged by religious leader to be vaccinated: 8% more likely; 19% less likely.
- Served as a vaccination site: 5% more likely; 21% less likely.
A similar pattern was seen among unvaccinated respondents when asked if such efforts would make a difference when it came to vaccinating their children.
The margin of error is plus-or-minus 1.7%.