COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Resource Center

Issue: July 2021
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
June 21, 2021
2 min read

COVID-19 vaccine coverage lags among young adults, with many saying they will forego shot

Issue: July 2021
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Almost a quarter of adults aged 18 to 39 years indicated they would not get vaccinated against COVID-19, researchers reported today in MMWR.

At the same time, researchers on another MMWR report said COVID-19 vaccine coverage among young adults would remain well below older adults unless their rate of vaccination increases.


Younger adults who have lower incomes, lower education levels, lack health insurance, are Black, and live outside of metropolitan areas had the lowest reported COVID-19 vaccination rates and were less intent on receiving a shot, according to the first report, which was authored by Brittney N. Baack, MPH, a behavioral scientist at the CDC, and colleagues.

According to up-to-date CDC tracking, 53% of Americans have received as least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as of June 20, and 45% are full vaccinated. Among adults aged 65 years or older — one of first populations eligible to be vaccinated — 87% have received at least one dose and 77% are fully vaccinated.

Baack and colleagues surveyed U.S. household from March to May to examine attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination among adults aged 18 to 39 years. According to the researchers, 34% of respondents in that age group reported having received a COVID-19 vaccine, and 51.8% said they were either already vaccinated or “definitely” planning to get vaccinated.

Other respondents were not as sure. According to Baack and colleagues, 23.2% said they “probably” were going to get vaccinated or were unsure about it, and 24.9% said they “probably” or “definitely” would not.

“Achieving high vaccination coverage among adults aged 18-39 years is critical to protect this population from COVID-19 and to reduce community incidence,” the researchers wrote. “Increasing confidence in vaccine safety and effectiveness and emphasizing that vaccines are important for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to family and friends and resuming social activities might help increase coverage in this younger adult population, particularly among those who are unsure about whether to get vaccinated.”

In the second report, CDC epidemiologist Jill Diesel, PhD, and colleagues said that, as of May 22, younger adults were not on pace to reach the same levels of COVID-19 vaccine coverage as older adults by the end of August.

“If the current rate of vaccination continues through August, coverage among young adults will remain substantially lower than among older adults,” they wrote.

Using vaccination data reported to the CDC through state immunization information services from Dec. 14 through May 22, Diesel and colleagues reported that vaccine coverage was highest among adults aged 65 years and older (80%), and lowest among adults aged 18 to 29 years (38.3%). Regardless of vaccine eligibility, coverage was lower among younger age groups in every American state, the authors reported.

“Coverage by the week of August 29, 2021, is projected to reach 57.5% for adults aged 18 to 29 years, 71.4% for adults aged 30 to 49 years, 85.9% for adults aged 50 to 64 years, 94.9% for adults aged 65 years [and older], and 78.4% for persons aged 18 years [and older]” the authors wrote.


Baack BN, et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7025e2.

CDC. COVID-19 data tracker: COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States. Accessed June 21, 2021.

Diesel J, et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7025e1.