Vaccine passports: what should they be used for?

Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
April 14, 2021, 6:00 PM UTC

The United States has administered at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to nearly half of all American adults, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. With millions of vaccines occurring each day, the US government has begun trying to wrangle more than a dozen vaccine passport initiatives so there is a standard way for Americans to provide proof of inoculation.

While the Biden Administration has said there will be no federal mandate that requires every American to have a vaccine passport, businesses have said they will require verifiable evidence that customers have received the shot.  

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds that the issue is deeply polarized: 61% of Democrats favor certain businesses requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination with one in five (19%) oppose it. One-quarter of Republicans (23%) support requiring customers to show evidence of vaccination, and three in five (62%) oppose it.  

While Americans overall are split on the issue (39% support, 40% oppose), Independents tend to oppose it. One-third of Independents (32%) favor the idea, while 45% are against it. 

Most Americans support COVID-19 vaccination proof for international travelers 

While Americans are split on the general idea of businesses requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination, they do favor it in some cases.  

Most (58%) support governments requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travelers, with three-quarters of Democrats (77%) and two in five Republicans (41%) in consensus. This is the most popular case for vaccine passports among Republicans, but half (48%) still oppose it. Also on the subject of travel, about half of Americans (53%) support airlines that want to require proof of vaccination for travel. Three-quarters of Democrats (73%) support it, compared to 35% of Republicans. 

Americans tend to support companies that want to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for employees to return to the workplace (46% favor, 39% oppose) or sports arenas that think a vaccine passport is necessary to attend games (45% vs 38%). Americans are split on whether or not schools should require COVID-19 vaccine proof from students (41% vs 39%) or entertainment venues like movie theaters or concert halls (41% vs 40%). 

Americans oppose requiring vaccination proof from indoor diners or shoppers 

Americans tend to oppose restaurants or bars requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to dine indoors (35% favor, 44% oppose). About half of Democrats (53%) would support a restaurant or bar mandating vaccine evidence, compared to one in five Republicans (21%). 

The strongest opposition comes from the idea of stores requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination from shoppers. Most Americans are against turning away unvaccinated shoppers (24% support, 56% oppose). That is something that seven in 10 Republicans oppose (15% vs 72%) and Democrats are split on (37% support, 40% oppose). 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Yahoo News/YouGov Poll 

Related: Half of vaccine rejectors believe it is safe to travel now, compared to 29% of vaccinated adults 

Methodology: The Yahoo! News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,649 U.S. adults interviewed online between April 6 - 8, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 Presidential vote (or non-vote), and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error (a 95% confidence interval) for the entire sample is approximately 2.6%. 

Image: Getty