Media Summary: COVID-19 and Lung Health Survey Results

Widespread vaccination adoption will help us end the pandemic, and as our nation continues to address the pandemic, people’s behaviors – wearing masks, social distancing, etc. – are critical in reducing the spread of the virus and saving lives.

The American Lung Association serves as the nation’s trusted resource for lung health and has been on the forefront of sharing trusted, fact-based information about COVID-19 and vaccination with the public. 

A year since the pandemic officially began, the American Lung Association issued a survey to 2,511 U.S. residents to better understand current concerns, perceptions and beliefs about COVID-19 and lung health. The COVID-19 & Lung Health Survey - a new survey commissioned by the American Lung Association was conducted by OnePoll from March 24, 2021 to April 2, 2021. 

Awareness & Concerns

Understanding perceptions and motivating factors around the pandemic and lung health is an important step toward driving improved public health interventions. 

  • COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory virus, yet the survey revealed that only 76% of people believed COVID-19 is a virus that affects the lungs.
  • The majority (63%) of respondents reported they were most worried about their family’s or loved ones’ lung health, and nearly half (48%) of respondents reported being most concerned about their personal lung health since the pandemic began.
  • Smoking can make it more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Of those who responded to the survey as a smoker or vaper, 43% of survey respondents who smoke or vape report being more motivated to quit smoking or vaping since the pandemic began, and 45% report being equally motivated to quit. Only 13% report of those surveyed who smoke or vape report being less motivated to quit. (Of survey respondents, 26% reported not smoking or vaping.)
  • New research shows air pollution exposure can result in worse health outcomes from COVID-19, and 43% of survey respondents were most concerned about outdoor air quality since the pandemic began.
  • With Americans staying home more frequently and many working from home, 35% of respondents reported most concern about indoor air quality and 29% reported most concern about secondhand smoke exposure (29%) since the pandemic began.

Behaviors: Reducing the Spread, Protecting Health

Until the pandemic is over, how people act – whether they wear masks, socially distance and more – will drive the rates of new COVID-19 cases. Understanding the current perceptions and adoption of public health measures intended to slow the spread of the virus will help determine how organizations and local communities might respond to help save lives.

  • When it comes to the behaviors of others, about half (49%) of respondents report that they believed others in their community were taking enough precautions to reduce the spread of the virus, while 36% thought others were not, and 15% were unsure.
  • Once vaccinated, a person should not assume they are “immune” to COVID-19 and will not spread the virus. Of those respondents who do plan to get vaccinated or have already been vaccinated, the majority report that even after vaccination they plan on continuing safety measures during the pandemic, such as using hand sanitizer (70%), handwashing (68%), wearing a mask (67%), socially distancing (59%), and avoiding crowds (54%). Less than six percent from this group of respondents plan on taking no safety measures.

Vaccination Perceptions

Widespread vaccination will be critical to reach “herd immunity” and help end the pandemic. Clinical trials on vaccination continue to determine the long-term efficacy of vaccination, and additional trials are testing the safety and efficacy of vaccination for those under age 16. Understanding public perceptions of vaccination will be critical to successful public health interventions to encourage informed conversations on vaccination.

  • Of the survey respondents polled, 30% report having been vaccinated and 41% report planning to become vaccinated. However, 19% do not plan to get vaccinated and 10% remain undecided.
  • Of those respondents vaccinated or who plan to get vaccinated, 79% would get an annual COVID-19 vaccine (similar to the annual flu vaccination) if recommended by their doctor or the CDC.
  • The majority (82%) of respondents are parents, and currently vaccination is not approved for children under 16. If the FDA would authorize a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 16, 53% of parents report they would likely have their child vaccinated for COVID-19, 12% report being unsure and 35% report they would not. 

“The pandemic has laid bare the critical importance of lung health,” said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “And as this survey reveals, Americans are now more concerned about protecting the lung health of loved ones as well as their own. The American Lung Association has served as the nation’s champion of lung health for more than a century, and we’re here to help everyone improve their lung health, whether overcoming a tobacco addiction, ensuring the air we breathe is healthy or finding fact-based information about vaccination.”


The American Lung Association offers fact-based information about COVID-19 and vaccination at, including our vaccine tracker and Better For It vaccination toolkit

*This online survey of 2,511 U.S. adults was commissioned by the American Lung Association and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected from March 24, 2021 to April 2, 2021. All participants are paid an amount depending on the length and complexity of the survey. This survey was overseen and edited by the OnePoll research team, who are members of the MRS and have corporate membership to ESOMAR and AAPOR.

Page last updated: October 25, 2022

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