America dips its toes into the re-opening waters

Americans are venturing out little by little and growing more confident, but barriers to fully vaccinating the nation remain.

Catherine Morris
May 11 · 5 min read

Stories this week:

  • Parents are more hesitant about COVID-19 vaccine
  • Parents still have mixed feelings about the vaccine for kids
  • The last pandemic Mother’s Day?
  • Fathers are most confident about job security
  • Transitioning out of survival mode
  • As the New York region speeds towards reopening, residents adjust their COVID risk calculus

Parents are more hesitant about COVID-19 vaccine

About one in four parents are not at all likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine, eight points ahead of their childless counterparts, Axios/Ipsos tracking finds.

Across almost every demographic, parents are more skeptical of the vaccine than those without kids. Americans living in rural communities are among the most reluctant, with just under half of rural parents not wanting the COVID-19 vaccine at all, 18-points ahead of all other rural respondents. Smaller but similar gaps appear by race, education, gender, and partisanship.

As the FDA reportedly moves to issue an emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccines among teenagers, how willing parents are to get the vaccine themselves will hold sway over whether they allow their children to be inoculated.

Parents still have mixed feelings about the vaccine for kids

Parents are split on whether they will vaccinate their children or not, with vaccine skeptics leaning heavily against it.

Republican parents are much less likely to vaccinate their children (65% say they will not) compared to Democrats (35% of whom say they will not). Yet the real determining factor is vaccine acceptance overall, with those who say they will never get the vaccine for themselves nearly universally saying that they are unlikely to get their child vaccinated either.

However, views may change as a now hypothetical vaccine for children comes into circulation. As Axios-Ipsos tracking data found, Americans became more accepting of the vaccine for adults once it was approved by the FDA and others began to get it.

The last pandemic Mother’s Day?

A little over in one in three Americans purchased flowers or a gift for their mother or mother-like figures this past weekend after people celebrated their second Mother’s Day in a pandemic.

All in all, Americans opted for more pandemic-friendly celebrations, like cooking at home or calling their mothers, over in person and out of home activities.

Still, a sizeable minority went out to eat and traveled to visit with friends or family. On Friday and Sunday, TSA screened a pandemic-era record of around 1.7 million fliers, the highest since March 2020, pointing towards the growing willingness among Americans to venture outside of the home.

Fathers are most confident about job security than mothers

Fathers have an 11-point lead on mothers on confidence in job security for themselves and for those around them now as compared to six months ago, according to Ipsos-Forbes Advisor Consumer Confidence Tracking data. This discrepancy in outlook exists even as mothers begin to reenter the workforce in greater numbers.

Throughout the pandemic, fathers have consistently reported greater confidence about job security, while sentiment among mothers lagged behind. The greatest divide in confidence was evident in December 2020, when mothers were 24-points less confident about job security than fathers.

This lack of confidence in job security reflects the very real challenges mothers faced in the labor market over the past year. Women tend to be disproportionately represented in the sectors that were most affected by layoffs and business closures during the crisis. These larger trends were exacerbated for mothers, who still shoulder the bulk of childcare and other household responsibilities. Pandemic-driven lockdowns and school closures only added to these pressures, forcing many to drop out of the workforce.

Though unemployment overall is still high, and men are more likely to be participating in the labor market, there are signs that mothers are beginning to close the gap on active workforce participation. As of this spring, tracking data indicate that while the gulf in sentiment around job security is still present, it is not as bad as it was this past fall and winter.

Transitioning out of survival mode

A plurality of Americans now say that they are doing most or some of the things that they used to do before COVID, according to the Ipsos consumer COVID tracker. This reflects a broader push towards reopening across the country.

It also signals that many Americans are beginning to transition out of a temporary state of adaptation they were existing in for much of 2020. Americans are now significantly less reactive to the vicissitudes of the crisis with just 9% saying that they are establishing new routines and responding “day by day” to the situation, down from 24% in late November 2020.

As the New York region speeds towards reopening, residents adjust their COVID risk calculus

A week ahead ofa massive re-opening effort, 53% of people who live in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut view returning to pre-COVID life as risky, down 12-points from a month ago, according to an analysis of Axios/Ipsos tracking data.

The perception that returning to pre-COVID life is risky fell among residents as Governor Lamont, Murphy and Cuomo announced their coordinated plans to re-open the region. The decision to re-open comes on the heels of a robust vaccination campaign across each state; at this point, half or more of the population in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut received at least one COVID-19 shot.

Despite this movement at the regional level, the dip in risk perception among Americans mirrors trends in other parts of the country. Just over half of the people in California, Washington, and Oregon see returning to pre-COVID life as risky.

On the other hand, the most recent wave of the tracker found that well under half of the people in the South (35%) and the Midwest (42%) see a return to pre-COVID life as risky. These geographic differences are, in part, fueled by political differences, with Democrats more hesitant to return to pre-COVID life than Republicans.

Ipsos Public Affairs

Presenting original analysis of public opinion research on…

Ipsos Public Affairs

Presenting original analysis of public opinion research on politics and society from the world’s third-largest market research firm, with a particular focus on the 2020 United States elections. For more information, visit: https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/news-and-polls/overview

Catherine Morris

Written by

Data journalist @Ipsos covering trends in public opinion around society, COVID and politics.

Ipsos Public Affairs

Presenting original analysis of public opinion research on politics and society from the world’s third-largest market research firm, with a particular focus on the 2020 United States elections. For more information, visit: https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/news-and-polls/overview

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