How Are College Students Feeling About the COVID-19 Vaccines? We Asked Our Instagram Audience, & Here's What They Had to Say

As vaccines roll out to healthcare workers, seniors, and high-risk populations across the world, comment wars wage on as people on both sides of the fence share their reasons, often without any real scientific evidence, for getting – or refusing to get – vaccinated against COVID-19. We wanted to find out which way college students – a massive population of people whose formative years were flipped upside down – were leaning, so we asked our audience over on Instagram how they were feeling as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines began to roll out. Here’s what they had to say!

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84 percent – or 2,654 people – are planning to get vaccinated

The majority of respondents reported that they would be getting vaccinated when the option becomes available to them. Many cited thier belief in science, or a sense of duty to themselves and their communities, when asked why they would be getting vaccinated. Many who reported they would not be getting vaccinated also clarified that they wanted an opportunity to see what long-term side effects may look like before actually making their decisions. Others reported a lack of adequate research and fear of dangerous reactions.

Here are some of the other reasons people are getting vaccinated:

  • I’m gonna get it so I can get drunk at Applebee’s again.
  • I’ll get it, but ONLY if I know that I’m not taking it away from someone who really needs it.
  • I’m getting it because I’m not trying to die.
  • Vaccines have worked well in the past (I’ve taken quite a few).
  • My birth control has more side effects than the vaccines combined.
  • Because I want to make it as safe as possible for people who WON’T get the vaccine.
  • I want COVID to be over, and I’m not an antivaxxer 🤭
  • Vaccines put antibodies in your body. I’ve had COVID, so I don’t think I can be hurt worse.
  • I have no reason to worry about what’s in it. It’s in the best interest of myself, and others around me.
  • Because like… science? And we get flu shots every year, so 🤷‍♀️
  • The government already has our cell phones, they don’t need to microchip us. Vaccines help.
  • There is NO reason to be afraid. People take Tylenol. WTF is in that? Idk, but we still use it daily.
  • The risk of COVID is much greater than hypothetical risks of the vaccine.
  • I'm healthy, and there's no reason not to.
  • I want to get the vaccine to keep myself and others safe, and be a part of history.
  • It’s the only way to end this thing.
  • There is literally no reason not to. If you don’t, you’re uneducated. Period.
  • I’ll do anything to help stop the virus!
  • Because I’m afraid of the long term effects of COVID.
  • I'm getting it because every previous deadly disease (Measles, Small Pox, etc.) was beat when the vaccines became available. Only way to defeat COVID!
  • More people vaccinated = better position to control community transmission.
  • I think it’s really important to achieve herd immunity, if possible.

And here are some of the reasons they’re not:

  • Because I had COVID, and it wasn’t that serious.
  • I already had COVID, and therefore am immune to it.
  • I’m an introvert, I’m only seeing my best friend. I don’t go out, so I don’t feel like I’d need the vaccine. Plus, I don’t like needles.
  • I’ve had negative experiences with getting the flu shot.
  • I have auto immune diseases and the data is iffy on whether it could worsen them. Since it does heighten the immune systems and I have to keep mine calm.
  • It’s extremely dangerous, a lot of people are getting sick or worse from it.
  • I’m a little apprehensive about receiving a vaccine that’s so new.
  • Because of the chance of infertility.
  • I don’t have health insurance.
  • I won’t get it immediately because I feel that it’s so new, but also I don’t want to take it away from someone who would be more susceptible to actually getting COVID.

We also asked those who said they wouldn’t be getting vaccinated what their biggest concern was. Many people reported a fear of aggravating their allergies, or said that they believed the vaccine would make them infertile. Others said:

  • How can they create a vaccine for this so quickly but not AIDS or Cancer?
  • I need to figure out if any of my allergies are in it, and also long term side effects.
  • Serious long term damages to your body and health.
  • I won’t get the vaccine because what if it doesn’t work? As a child I would get the flu shot and still get it.
  • Just can’t afford to get the side effects that might keep me out of work.
  • There isn’t substantial amount of evidence to prove its effectiveness.

65 percent – 1,821 people – believe that vaccination should be mandatory (for people who don’t have a medical or religious exemption)

At least, it should be to return to in-person schooling. People on both sides of the fence brought up concerns about the ethics and legality of mandatory vaccination.

Here are some of the reasons that respondents believe the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory:

  • It’s the best way to build herd immunity.
  • Don’t let stupid people who don’t trust science kill the rest of us/allow it to mutate.
  • So we can get this thing under control. There's no reason not to get vaccinated.
  • In the eradication of a disease, it is the moral responsibility of every citizen to take their vaccine so we can build crowd immunity. Because we have the privilege of choice doesn’t mean we rob the less privileged people of their right to crowd immunity.
  • It’s a public health concern. Collective right to safety is greater than the individual’s right to deny the vaccine.
  • Because those who won’t have it can infect other people, and it isn’t fair to those who get it.
  • I think it should be mandatory to do things, ie, can't eat at a restaurant without the vaccine.
  • Public health emergencies override personal preferences.
  • I know people have religious reasons, but I can’t stand people who “don’t trust it.”
  • I think it could eventually bring life back to normal, and people won't stay home.
  • People shouldn't be allowed to be selfish just because they’re choosing to be ignorant.
  • Freedom of choice is important, but not when your choice could potentially harm others.

And here are some of the reasons it shouldn’t:

  • Because we’re a “free country,” and if you make the vaccine mandatory then it will turn into dictatorship.
  • You can’t control people’s lives, BUT if they don’t want the vaccine COVID is what they deserve.
  • Because it came out so fast. About a year of COVID we have a vaccine, but not for the cold?
  • By boosting your immune system with healthy foods and vitamins you’ll be fine. I know from firsthand experience.
  • My body, my choice!!! Same reasons we fight for the right to have an abortion.
  • “Mandatory” laws always result in disproportionate policing of minorities.
  • Sadly, stupidity cannot be outlawed. Ban people without vaccines from things instead.
  • Because that’s literally socialism – you can’t make everyone get something.
  • Natural selection.
  • As much as I wanna say yes, no, it’s a body violation to make it mandatory. I’m getting it, though.
  • Because the flu shot isn’t.

64 percent – or 1,536 people – said they wouldn’t feel safe returning to school or work, or even going shopping, knowing that their peers may not be vaccinated

We asked our audience to specify exactly how they'd feel venturing back out into a potentially unvaccinated society, and the reactions were pretty mixed: 

  • Scared and annoyed.
  • Fine. How do I feel about every other person getting cancer and all sorts of human made stuff?
  • Perfectly fine. Not everyone was vaccinated before this disease and we were fine.
  • I’m healthy enough to survive it.
  • Horrified. The vaccine will help me, but it won’t be as effective… Their brainless rebellion against science will take lives, without a doubt.
  • They should be [vaccinated]!! Vaccines should be mandatory in shared living situations!
  • Yes [I'd feel fine]. No one received it before. As long as you wear your mask, you’re protected.
  • Herd immunity only works when the herd is on board. The virus won't die unless we work together
  • ANNOYED! Just do it!!!!!!
  • I respect people’s choices regarding their own body, but I worry about college life still being so restricted.
  • Horrible, it should be required for enrollment like certain vaccines are in NYS.
  • Uncomfortable. The vaccine doesn’t make you fully immune. It’s a chance I don’t want to take as someone with pre-existing conditions that make COVID deadly to me.
  • I’d be pissed, because they’re not concerned about everyone’s well-being.
  • There’re many people who already don’t get vaccinated for things like the flu, and we're still around them.
  • I'll be taking a year off if that's the case.
  • I would feel EXTREMELY concerned for everyone’s health and well-being.
  • Bad. You’re literally endangering everyone around you because you don’t trust science.
  • I think masks should still be mandated, so it wouldn't be an issue in that case..
  • If I was vaccinated I wouldn't mind, but if nobody is I would definitely be uncomfortable.
  • I would feel fine. It’s your body, your choice.
  • It makes me uneasy because we've seen the full potential of this virus.
  • I’d be uncomfortable knowing that people are making the decision to not be safe.
  • I trust they did their research.
  • I think if people aren't getting vaccinated, they need an alternate route for educations.
  • As long as everyone has a *chance* to be vaccinated, them getting it is their risk.
  • If I have the vaccine, then I won't get sick. If my peers get sick it’s on them, and vice versa.
  • Because I’m aware of the virus I’d just still be cautious about who I’m around or not.
  • It’s their decision, but it frustrates me.

We encourage you all to do your own research when it comes making the choice to be vaccinated. Over the next few weeks, Her Campus will be sharing first-hand accounts from people who've already been vaccinated, and we'll be speaking with experts to address both the most common misconceptions and questions from our Instagram polls!