Study highlights most supportive ethnic group for COVID-19 vaccine mandates

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine mandates were controversial, but they still successfully increased vaccination rates. A new study of South Texas residents by researchers at Rice University and University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found that vaccinated Asian patients were significantly more likely than other ethnic/racial groups to support COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Luz Garcini
Luz Garcini.

“Collective good and individual choice: Perceptions on COVID-19 vaccine mandate among COVID-19 vaccinated individuals” appears in the journal Vaccine and is published online.

Nearly 900 residents living in the study’s area participated in the survey. Luz Garcini, assistant professor of psychological sciences at Rice and interim director of Community and Public Health at the Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research, co-authored the study.

Overall, 59% of participants supported the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. However, there were significant demographic differences when it came to support. Eighty percent of Asian survey participants were most likely to support COVID-19 vaccine mandates, compared to 50-57% of individuals from other ethnic/racial groups. Latinos were also more supportive of mandates than the average of all ethnic/racial groups with about 66% in support.

“To better understand the responses of specific communities to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to consider the context in which these responses occur,” Garcini said. “For instance, Asian American and Latin American communities in the U.S. faced significant stigmatization, discrimination and blame for the virus’s spread. This context makes their support for a vaccination mandate more understandable.”

The youngest (ages 16-25) and the oldest (ages 55 and older) respondents were most likely to support COVID-19 vaccine mandates at 76% and 74%, respectively. Other groups clocked in between 54% and 58%.

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Less significant differences were documented between individuals with varying education levels. Sixty-six percent of respondents with an education level of high school or below supported mandates compared to 59% of individuals with any kind of higher education (including trade school).

Garcini said the study demonstrates the importance of considering demographic differences when gauging support of public health initiatives.

“There are important lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to building support for public health efforts,” Garcini said. “There are so many varying factors that influence people’s opinions, and these must be considered when getting buy-in.”

The study was co-authored by UT Health San Antonio researchers Kaivalya Gudooru, Kimberly Nguyen, Kathy Le, Vyas Sarabu, Meredith Hosek, Anna Phan, Michelle Garza, Bertha Flores, Armida Flores and Amelie Ramirez.

The paper is online at