Gartner Research

Consumer Pulse: Where (and How) Should Proof of Vaccination Be Required?

Published: 08 July 2021


Executive leaders deciding whether and how to allow entry to retail outlets, transport, offices and facilities should consider the layers of mistrust underlying a fragmented buying public. Findings from our latest U.S. consumer survey echo in our analysis of global social media posts.

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Executive leaders whose organizations depend on rebounding in-person activity — by customers or by employees — should take note of tensions over vaccination status. You’ll need to factor these splits into consideration of whether, or how, to require proof of full COVID-19 protection for entry to retail outlets, facilities, transportation and offices. A lack of trust emerges from the findings of both our June U.S. consumer survey and our analysis of global social media posts over the past six months. And attitudes among different segments of the public for different types of settings vary widely.

Of U.S. consumers surveyed…

  • Fifty-seven percent support verification of vaccination status for entry into businesses and venues.

  • Twenty-one percent told us they would refuse to do any activity that required proof of vaccination.

Nineteen percent said that they are not planning to get a vaccine.

Sixty-four percent of surveyed consumers don’t believe that unvaccinated people will always follow the rules on their own and keep wearing face masks.

  • Only 16% think they can be trusted, while 21% are unsure what to think (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Trust in the Unvaccinated to Follow the Rules and Keep Wearing Wear Masks

The strongest backing for showing proof of vaccines comes from:

  • Self-identified political liberals (69%)

  • Parents with no children at home (68%) — compared with 52% for parents whose children live with them

  • Households with incomes above $100,000 (62%) — see Figure 2

Overall, there are no notable differences between older and younger consumers.

Figure 2. Acceptance of Vaccine Verification, by Income

Travel, healthcare and schools — a higher percentage favors vaccination requirements for these three settings than for activities such as office visits or sports and fitness (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Vaccine Requirements for Activities

While more than seven in 10 (71%) agree that the primary purpose of vaccine verification is to keep people safe, nearly three in 10 see a demand for proof as a move to exert control (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Intent of Vaccination Verification: Safety vs. Control

Despite these divisions, almost half (49%) of consumers think it’s time to move on from discussions about the role of masks and social distancing...about one-quarter (26%) want those debates to continue.

Six in 10 (62%) would prefer showing a vaccine card or a paper printout. Just over one-third (34%) are comfortable with a digital record from a healthcare provider and one-third told us the same about a state-sponsored digital code on an app (33%). Eighteen percent would be fine with a fingerprint scan.

Figure 5. Preferred Form of Vaccine Proof

Globally, the volume of social media conversations using the term “vaccine certificates” has risen almost tenfold since December 2020 (see Figure 6).

Figure 6. Global Social Media Conversations About Vaccine Certificates

This timetable of trending posts shows an evolution from concerns over government tracking early in the year to confusion about different forms of verification.

February 2021:

  • Vaccine certificates could become a potential healthcare tracking system for governments and businesses and they are viewed as a violation of freedom to choose one’s healthcare.

March 2021:

  • Anxiety over needing vaccine certificates to access leisure, hospitality, retail and employment activities.

  • Reduced trust in healthcare with the introduction of vaccine certificates.

April 2021:

  • Questioning the purpose of vaccine certificates if they are ineffective at reducing transmission.

  • Small businesses assert that certificates would negatively affect them and aren’t necessary.

May 2021:

  • Concerns expressed that vaccine certificates can be used as a political tool.

  • People in the EU support the decision not to use vaccine certificates as a requirement for travel within the bloc.

June 2021:

  • Confusion over different certificates from different countries, leading to calls for a unified system

  • Concerns are raised over data security with vaccine certificates and forged ones.

  • Consumer and Culture

  • Social Media Analysis

Compiled by Daniel Ryntjes,Theresa Peterson and Fahim Talmeez

Contact with any questions or comments.

Recommended by the Authors


Gartner Consumer Community, 17-24 June 2021, n=346 The Gartner Consumer Community is a consumer panel of about 450 members roughly resembling the U.S. general population. Panel members took the survey voluntarily. The results should not be interpreted as being more widely applicable and should only be used for directional insights.

Gartner Consumer Community, 10-17 June 2021, n=327

Respondents within the Gartner Consumer Community identified their position on the socio-political spectrum. Around half of conservatives support the use of vaccine verification for entry into businesses or venues, but the sample size was not sufficient to report as a percentage.

Social media analysis (SMA) methodology: Gartner conducts social listening analysis leveraging third party data tools to complement or supplement the other fact bases presented in this document. Due to its qualitative and organic nature, the results should not be used separately from the rest of this research. No conclusions should be drawn from this data alone. Social Media data in reference is from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 in all geographies (except China) and recognized languages.


Consumer and Culture Insights Team

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