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February 23, 2024

COVID-19 Vaccines for Children: A Workplace Health Equity Priority

By taking action to support working parents in vaccinating their children, employers can advance health equity and reduce absenteeism.

Children ages 6 months to 4 years old became eligible for COVID-19 vaccination on June 18, 2022. In their first month of eligibility, only about 3% of these youngest children received their first dose, raising the risk that parents will have to miss work to care for their children if schools or daycare centers are forced to close or their children become ill.

By taking action to support working parents in vaccinating their children, employers can advance health equity and reduce absenteeism.

Understanding the Equity Impacts

  • Hispanic and Black parents are more likely than white parents to report potential access barriers to vaccination. These include concerns about being able to get the vaccine from a trusted place, the inaccurate belief that they may have to pay out-of-pocket for the vaccine, or having difficulty traveling to a vaccination site.
  • Parents with a household income below $50,000—a group that is more likely to include Black and Hispanic workers—are more than twice as likely as other parents to be concerned about needing time off from work to get their children vaccinated.
  • Almost half of working mothers said they took unpaid sick leave because their child’s school or daycare was closed. This rose to 65% among low-income mothers and 70% among those working part-time jobs.
  • Black women have disproportionate childcare responsibilities compared to women of other races, so school or daycare closures are likely to affect them even more significantly than other parents.
  • Over 1 million women left the workforce as of January 2022, largely as a result of caregiving responsibilities, adding to the pressure of a challenging labor market.

Employer Actions to Support Working Parents

  • Provide paid time off and flexible scheduling for employees to get themselves and their family members vaccinated for COVID-19 and routine immunizations. PTO should also cover the time needed to care for children recovering from vaccine side effects.
  • Share trusted information about the safety of vaccines for children. A majority of parents of children under 5 say they don’t have enough information about the safety or effectiveness of the vaccines. Refer parents to these “Ask a Pediatrician” and “FAQs for Families” resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Join Vaccinate Your Family’s Their Best Shot campaign to share resources and provide working parents information about childhood vaccines.
  • Remove barriers associated with childhood vaccination by offering transportation, language support or internet access for scheduling appointments. Thirty-eight percent of low-income working parents were concerned about difficulty traveling to a vaccination appointment. Host on-site workplace vaccination clinics for employees and their families in partnership with your local public health department or school district. Especially as fall approaches, clinics can dispense COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots together.
  • Offer modest incentives to encourage working parents to vaccinate eligible children.
  • Create time in employees’ schedules to book an appointment or send company-wide reminders.
  • Join our campaign, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Business Roundtable and more than two dozen other national business and public health organizations, to support working parents who choose to vaccinate their children.