January 13, 2022

Howard County Likely Voters Support a COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for Public School Students

New survey for Horizon Foundation highlights 69% of the county’s likely voters would support a vaccine requirement as schools face surge in COVID cases

As the nation continues to grapple with a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases, a new survey in Howard County finds overwhelming support for requiring all public school students in the county to be fully vaccinated against the virus to attend school.

The poll, commissioned by the Horizon Foundation in Howard County, found that 69% of likely voters favor the idea, including a whopping 58% who favor it strongly, while just 27% oppose it, including 23% who oppose it strongly. Sixty-five percent of likely voters with children under the age of 18 at home favor the policy, including 54% who favor it strongly, while 33% oppose it, including 28% who oppose it strongly.

“The bottom line is that there is widespread and intense support for a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for children to attend public schools in Howard County,” concludes Daniel Gotoff of Lake Research Partners, a national public opinion firm that conducted the poll of 1,100 likely voters in the county.

The strong show of support for a vaccine requirement in Howard County comes as schools throughout the state and nation are confronting the surge in COVID-19 cases brought on by the Omicron variant, with many returning to virtual instruction. Howard County has among the best rates of COVID vaccinations in the state, with 86% of residents 12 and older having received their first dose of vaccine. However, only 44% of eligible children aged 5-11 have completed their vaccine series.

“There is clearly broad and deep support for adding a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for public school students in Howard County,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation. “For months now, Howard County has led the way in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 through implementing proven public health strategies. These data show widespread support for adding another public health measure by requiring vaccines to help protect students, teachers and staff and to support quality, in-person learning for our students. State and local policymakers should take heed of these results as they continue to help us toward the path of recovery.”

Since March 2020, the Foundation has worked diligently to address the pandemic in Howard County by providing emergency COVID-19 funding and by recognizing the critical need to support decision-making among those in communities of color who were undecided about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. These efforts include:

  • Providing over $1M in COVID-19 relief funding to organizations on the frontlines of the crisis.
  • Supporting HoCoRespond (a local funding collaborative comprised of the Community Foundation of Howard County, United Way of Central Maryland, Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County and Horizon Foundation) that granted $600,000 in emergency funding to non-profits in Howard County.
  • Participating in a national study with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health regarding vaccine decision making among Hispanic, Black and Asian American communities.
  • Developing – and launching – a campaign to help Howard Countians in the Black and Hispanic community make informed decisions about the COVID-19 vaccine. See www.hocovaccines.org.

For data and findings from the poll, please see the poll memo here.