Respondents split on vaccine and mask mandates, but more than half would be vaccinated if required to travel by air or take a cruise.

One-third say they lost loved one, friend, or co-worker to COVID-19.

ST. LEO, FL – As the Omicron subvariant BA.2 of COVID-19 became dominant worldwide, the percentage of Americans concerned about the virus decreased, according to a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey.

Polling was conducted online February 28 through March 12, among 1,000 total respondents nationally. The resulting margin of error for the results is 3.0 percentage points in either direction. In Florida, where the Saint Leo University’s residential campus is located, 500 additional people were polled. The margin of error for the responses is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
In the national poll, a large majority, 66.2 percent, say they are very or somewhat concerned about COVID-19, but this is down significantly from 77.5 in October 2021 and 79.9 percent in October 2020. In the Florida-only poll, 69 percent of respondents say they are very or somewhat concerned compared to 81.4 percent in October 2021 and 83.8 percent in October 2020, who expressed concern about the virus.

“This result isn’t totally surprising to me,” Dr. Cheryl Kozina said of the decrease in concern. Kozina is an associate professor of biology in Saint Leo’s Department of Natural and Applied Sciences. “Everyone who can and wants to be vaccinated has been at this point. I think, too, that some of the concerns are coming down because, even when people have gotten sick in recent months, their symptoms have been much milder. For those who are vaccinated, this shows that the vaccines are working—making the disease less severe. Even for those who are unvaccinated, we have seen milder variants in recent months, so this could be contributing to this drop.”

But the majority of respondents remain concerned, Kozina noted. “This virus hasn’t gone away just because we have gotten bored with it,” she said. “We are still going to have friends and loved ones be diagnosed, possibly hospitalized, and possibly pass away. I think that it is right to still have some concerns about what is going to happen with this virus in the coming months.”

Debating Mandates
A majority of those surveyed by Saint Leo, 53.5%, report being vaccinated and say they support vaccine mandates while 22.1 percent who are vaccinated oppose such mandates. Among those that are unvaccinated, 17.9 percent oppose mandates while 3.7 percent support mandates, the national poll shows. Florida polling was nearly identical with 54.5 percent saying they are vaccinated and support mandates and 23.8 percent report being vaccinated, but do not support vaccine mandates while among the unvaccinated, 14 percent oppose mandates and 4 percent support mandates.
“I think amongst the vaccinated, there are a lot of people who support mandates because they ‘did their part’ and think that everyone else should too,” Kozina said. “I’ve heard this from a lot of people in the older generation, who remember the excitement of things like polio vaccines, or how devastating measles could be. There is confusion about the resistance to vaccines, given they have seen how powerful they are firsthand. I’ve also heard members of the military laugh about vaccine mandates given how many vaccines they are ordered to receive upon enlisting. Mandates are more ‘the norm’ for them.”

However, some of those who are vaccinated may think that everyone should be able to decide for themselves whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, Kozina said. “While I can understand why they may think this, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is a public health issue. Your individual choices can affect others. It isn’t as simple as choosing what is best for you and your family when you can infect others.”

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey also asked about mandating the wearing of masks.

All respondents were asked to indicate which of several statements best reflects their view on mask mandates. Results are shown below:

Views on Mask Mandates

National March 2022  – %

Florida March 2022 -%

I’m vaccinated (fully/partially) and support mask mandates



I’m vaccinated (fully/partially) but oppose mask mandates



I’m unvaccinated and oppose mask mandates



I’m unvaccinated but support mask mandates







Kozina said it is understandable that some people oppose mask mandates. “People are exhausted—I get it,” she said. “If we had had more widespread vaccination worldwide, maybe we would be done with this virus and its variants, but that isn’t the case. It’s still out there. Masks are still the best way to prevent spread from person to person [along with hand washing]. But I completely understand being tired of this pandemic and wanting to get back to normal, especially if you are vaccinated.”

Returning to traveling and vacations also are top of mind for poll respondents as they say that, in order to travel by air or take a cruise, they would get vaccinated with 64.9 percent saying they would for air travel and 60.8 percent saying they would travel on a cruise. In Florida, the results are similar at 69.4 percent for air travel and 68 percent to cruise.

The Jab For Children
While the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other health organizations recommend everyone ages 5 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against the virus, there remains hesitancy, according to the new Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results.

The poll reminded respondents that vaccines now are approved for children, and asked respondents what they would need to see before they would decide to have a child vaccinated. Results are displayed here in declining order by national results:

What Will You Need to See to Have Children Vaccinated?

National March 2022 – %

February March 2022 – %

More research on resulting effects of the vaccinations



Clearer and more consistent advice from health care agencies and political leaders



More on reasons why those who have already had COVID-19 need to be vaccinated



Nothing, I am opposed to vaccinating children



Fewer restrictions/more freedom



Unsure / Don’t know



If forced to because of school, preschool, child care requirements




Biology faculty member Kozina said she understands why people might want to see more data before making a decision on vaccination. “Children are some of the most vulnerable test subjects that there are,” she said.

Kozina also explained how testing is done. “If it helps to alleviate some fears, for all vaccine testing, we do this sort of step-down approach. We start with the adult population [who can consent to their own testing] and look at safety and efficacy. Then we move to older children and do the same, possibly having to tweak the dose or the schedule. Then slightly younger children. Then babies. In all cases, we need a large number of test subjects to collect large amounts of data.

“One ‘nice’ thing about COVID-19 is that we need a significant number of individuals in the ‘control’ population to test positive,” Kozina continued. “This can sometimes be hard for some illnesses if they aren’t widespread in the population being tested. The good news with COVID-19 is that we were able to get positive cases in the control group much more quickly than for many other vaccines that have gone through similar testing.”

While the vaccines are not causing “horrific side effects,” in children, they don’t seem to be as effective or creating a powerful enough immune response, Kozina said. So more testing at a higher dose or a different brand of vaccine may be needed.

Bearing Brunt of Pandemic
The impact of COVID-19 on Americans appears significant, the Saint Leo poll shows. Many people worked from home (32.4 percent), lost a friend or relative (32.4 percent), lost income (24.4 percent), depleted savings (23.3 percent) or had employment hours reduced (16.9 percent).

Respondents were presented with several possible results of the pandemic on their lives. Multiple responses were accepted. The table is displayed in declining order by frequency of mention on the national level.

COVID-19 Impacts

National October 2021 – %

National March 2022 – %

Florida October 2021 – %

Florida March 2022 – %

Worked from home





Lost a friend, relative or co-worker





Lost income





Depleted my savings





Had employment hours reduced





Lost employment





Switched jobs





Had to secure extra schooling / extra help for children falling behind in school






While many people say the pandemic made a significant impact on their lives, more than half of the poll respondents say “it is time to move on and live with COVID—no more mask or vaccine mandates,” with 54.1 percent nationally and 56.4 percent in Florida agreeing. And more than half also say, “Things for me are relatively back to normal or back to where they were before the pandemic,” with 59.8 percent nationally and 68.2 percent in Florida agreeing with that sentiment. This is an increase from polling in October 2021.

The Saint Leo University poll presented several statements about the COVID pandemic in the United States. For each, respondents were asked if they strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed. The table holds the cumulative totals for those strongly and somewhat agreeing with each statement.

COVID Statements

National October 2021

National March 2022

Florida October 2021

Florida March 2022

I tend to trust science and health officials when it comes to COVID information





I am still taking precautions due to COVID





Things for me are relatively back to normal or back to where they were before the pandemic





I support “passports” (proof of vaccinations) in my community to get into restaurants, concerts or sporting events





I support mandating that teachers are vaccinated





I support mandating that health-care workers are vaccinated





Religious exemptions from mandates should be allowed





Compromised immunity or health exemptions from mandates should be allowed





I would get vaccinated (if I was not/am not) to travel by air if it was mandated



I would get vaccinated (if I was not/am not) to take a cruise if it was mandated



It is time to move on and live with COVID – no more mask or vaccine mandates



My opinion has changed from “trusting the science” related to COVID to having my doubts about the CDC and other health professionals




With the majority agreeing that it’s time to move on and do away with masks and vaccine mandates, Kozina said she is “a bit” scared.

“The pandemic isn’t over,” she said. “New variants are possible and probable. This virus mutates very easily. The only way to slow the appearance of new variants is to not give it a place to go—no bodies that don’t already ‘know’ how to fight it off [because of vaccination or previous infection]. Likewise, masks prevent the spread from vulnerable person to vulnerable person. What happens if the next variant causes more serious illness and is more contagious? We have to be willing to require masking or vaccinating when appropriate to the current state of the disease. Remember, there are still vulnerable populations unable to be vaccinated, like young children. Lifting all restrictions potentially puts them at risk.”

About the Poll
METHODOLOGY: This national survey was conducted February 28 – March 12, among a base of 1,000 respondents nationally, using an online instrument. The national sample has an associated margin of error of +/- 3.0 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence for questions asked of all 1,000 respondents.
A statewide survey was also conducted during the same time period, among a base of 500 Florida respondents, using an online instrument. The sample has an associated margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence for questions asked of all 500 respondents.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can also be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering 62 degree programs to more than 15,800 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks and sisters, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 16 education centers in five states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 100,000 alumni. Learn more at

Media contact: Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Writer & Media Relations,, (352) 588-7118 or cell (813) 610-8416.