- Construction workers are among the least likely employees to say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if one were offered to them, underlining the challenges contractors will face getting their workforces inoculated.
- While willingness ranges as high as 77% for workers in higher education, just 53% of construction workers said they’d willingly roll up their sleeves for the shot. That put the group fourth from the bottom in industry rankings, ahead of just retail, transportation and food and beverage workers, according to data research firm Morning Consult.
- The firm surveyed 16,970 employed adults between October and January, and concluded that essential, frontline workers who can’t work from home and therefore are at higher risk of exposure, were also among those who have the highest degree of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
Last year, after the first successful vaccine trials were announced, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which oversees employee rights in the workplace, ruled that employers could require workers to get the vaccine, with certain exceptions. A week prior to that ruling, construction lawyers during a webinar hosted by the Associated General Contractors of America also said contractors could require workers to get shots.
But in anticipation of pushback from construction employees at that time, they also recommended that contractors strongly encourage workers to get inoculated, rather than adopting a mandatory approach.
“Come up with a policy that says we expect all of our employees to take the vaccine,” said attorney D. Albert Brannen, a partner at Atlanta-based Fisher Phillips.
In Morning Consult's analysis, it also referred to a California academic study that found construction workers had higher rates of excess mortality during the pandemic. According to the study, risk ratios comparing pandemic and pre-pandemic mortality rates were highest for cooks, packaging and filling machine operators, agricultural workers, bakers and construction laborers.
But occupation wasn’t the only predictor of lower vaccine acceptance, according to Morning Consult’s report. The firm found lower willingness rates among women, those without a college education and people living in rural areas. Black and Hispanic adults, who have accounted for higher per capita deaths during the pandemic due to COVID-19, were also less likely to say they’d get vaccinated.
Health agencies and employers will have their work to combat vaccine hesitancy cut out for them as the shots become more widely available, the report concluded.