Essential workers in blue-collar industries—including construction—are less likely to opt for a COVID-19 vaccine than those who work in more white-collar sectors, according to research by Morning Consult, New York.
While people employed in higher education, technology, financial services, insurance and public administration are the most likely to get vaccinated if offered a shot, workers in leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, construction, retail, transportation and the food and beverage industries are the least likely to do so.
“Essential workers unable to work from home have risked their lives to earn a living over the past year, with food and agriculture workers, those in transportation or logistics, facilities workers and manufacturing employees all seeing higher rates of excess mortality during the pandemic,” Morning Consult noted.
The range of responses in the 17 industry surveys conducted by the research firm varied widely, with 77% of higher education workers saying they would take the shot while just 47% of food and service workers saying they would do so. The average percentage for all 16,970 employed U.S. adults responding to the surveys was 56%, and those in the middle worked in publishing, entertainment and media; professional and business services; health care; and K-12 schools.
In a separate survey, Morning Consult found that women are less likely to want a COVID-19 vaccine than men. Other groups that are less likely to get vaccinated than others are those without a college education, people living in rural areas and black and Hispanic adults.
“Workplaces may end up playing an important role in getting people vaccinated,” Morning Consult wrote. “In December, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency focused on workplace discrimination, said employers could make COVID-19 shots mandatory for their workers. But previous Morning Consult polling indicates just 49% of the public thinks essential workers should be required to get vaccinated in order to return to their jobs.”
In a December webinar sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va.,construction attorneys at the Atlanta-based law firm Fisher Phillips LLP said that contractors could require workers to get shots.
“We do have a right to be aggressive, to keep the job flowing,” said Albert Brannen, Fisher Phillips partner, later reported by ConstructionDive.
But if construction workers balk at company mandates, contractors should find ways to show them why getting vaccinated is critical not only for their health, but for the health of other essential workers within the sector, Brannen said.
“Come up with a policy that says we expect all of our employees to take the vaccine,” he said. “We are a critical industry and we need to communicate that to our employees, as an explanation of why we expect you to take a vaccination when we make it available.”