More than seven in 10 Virginians say they are likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and slightly more than half of Virginians think it's safe to reopen schools this winter, according to a new statewide poll released Thursday. 

The percentage likely to get a vaccine represents an increase of 13 percentage points compared to September 2020 (58% saying they were very or somewhat likely to get a vaccine). The increase in those who said very likely was significant for both whites and minorities, with an increase of 14 percentage points for whites and 8 percentage points for minorities compared to September 2020. 

The poll was conducted in mid- to late December by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Democrats were the most likely to be vaccinated, at 88%. Those with higher levels of education and income were also more likely, as 82% of those with a family income of over $100,000 per year and 80% of those with a college degree said they were likely to get the vaccine. Residents living in Northern Virginia and the South Central and Tidewater regions were the most likely, with 87%, 74% and 68%, respectively. The Northwest and West regions were less likely, each with 53%.

“We see the importance of addressing the effects of COVID relative to improved health-care needs in areas that have been previously neglected such as education, health and employment,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

A strong majority of Virginians (64%) said they support a federal mask mandate, while 36% said they oppose the measure. Democrats and minorities were the most likely to be supportive, at 93% and 77%, respectively. Again, there were regional differences with Northern Virginia, Tidewater and the South Central regions being more supportive with 73%, 69% and 60%, and the more conservative West and Northwest regions were less likely to support the measure, with 51% and 50%, respectively.

Among the poll’s other key findings:

  • A slight majority (54%) of Virginians think it’s safe to send children and staff back to in-person classes this winter. This represents a 12 percentage point increase from September 2020 (42%). Men were more likely than women to think it’s safe (62% versus 48%) and whites were more likely than minorities (64% versus 37%). Republicans were most likely to think it is safe with 78% compared to 57% of independents and 28% of Democrats. There were regional differences, with the Northwest and West regions thinking it was more safe, with 67% and 64%, respectively. The South Central region and Northern Virginia were less likely to say it was very or somewhat safe with 54% and 51%. Tidewater was the least likely with 45%.
  • Virginians are most concerned with employment and health care being impacted by the pandemic, with 34% and 33% noting those as the greatest concern. One-quarter said education was the greatest concern and 5% said housing.
  • Seven in 10 residents think broadband internet access needs to be expanded and available to all Virginians.
  • Nineteen percent of Virginians report receiving financial assistance from the state related to the coronavirus pandemic, such as the Paycheck Protection Program or unemployment benefits.

The poll was conducted through telephone interviews with a representative sample of 827 adults, age 18 or older, living in Virginia. Interviews were conducted by landline (413) and cellphone (414, including 254 without a landline) from Dec 11-30. The margin of error for the complete set of weighted data is 5.39 percentage points.

For the full poll results and analysis, visit https://oppo.vcu.edu/policy-poll/.

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