COVID-19 Vaccines: Six Months In – New Research Offers Insights for Employers
Five things you need to know from Kaiser Family Foundation's latest findings on the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations.
The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations. The most recent update, published June 30, 2021, contains important insights for business leaders that can inform workplace approaches to help end the pandemic.
Here are five key things you need to know:
1. Employer encouragement and paid time off for vaccines are working. More businesses should adopt these strategies.
- About three-quarters of workers whose employers encourage getting a vaccine (73%) or offer paid time off to do so (75%) say they have gotten at least one shot, significantly more than the shares whose employers don’t encourage vaccination (41%) or don’t offer paid time off (51%). The differences persist even after controlling for workers’ age, race and ethnicity, education, income, party identification and other demographic characteristics.
- Seven in ten workers say their employer has provided them with information about how to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Two-thirds of employed adults (65%) say their employer has encouraged workers to get vaccinated and half (50%) say their employer provided them paid time off to get the vaccine or recover from side effects.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Keep up the great work! Continue educating your employees about the safety and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines. Employers are a trusted source of information when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, just behind doctors. 72% of adults say they trust their employer for reliable information about COVID-19 vaccines.
- Encouraging vaccination and offering paid time off could lead to higher vaccination rates among your workforce. Previous KFF research found that some workers would be more likely to get vaccinated if their employer offered a financial incentive or arranged for a vaccine provider to come to their workplace.
2. Vaccine mandates are unpopular among the unvaccinated, but could drive vaccination rates higher.
- About half the public believes employers should require their workers to get vaccinated, but most workers do not want their own employer to require vaccination, including the vast majority of unvaccinated workers (92%) as well as four in 10 workers who are already vaccinated (42%).
- Views diverge largely along partisan lines. The vast majority of Republican workers (85%) and six in ten of those who identify as independents (62%) say they do not want their employer to require vaccination, while over half of Democrats say they want their employer to require it (46%) or that they already do (16%).
- Among the unvaccinated, four in ten (42%) say they would get the vaccine if their employer required it, and half say they would leave their job.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Before mandating vaccines, explore other approaches that have proven effective, like sharing facts, encouraging vaccination and offering paid time off and other incentives to employees who get vaccinated.
- If you do mandate vaccines, make sure you’re aware of EEOC’s latest guidance, as well as the other potential negative impact on employee morale.
3. Optimism about the end of the pandemic is slowing vaccinations.
- Most adults (76%) are optimistic that the U.S. is nearing the end of the pandemic.
- However, this optimism has the potential to hamper further vaccination efforts, with half of unvaccinated adults saying that the number of cases is now so low there is no need for more people to get the vaccine.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Continue sharing facts about the safety and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines. As of July 2021, nearly all COVID-related deaths in the U.S. are among the unvaccinated.
- Remind employees that multiple virus variants currently circulating in the U.S., including the Delta variant, spread more easily and quickly, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.
- Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is the only way to ensure businesses can remain open. Widespread vaccination is key to keeping your business and the broader economy moving forward.
4. Vaccine safety remains a top concern. Full FDA approval could help.
- Three in 10 unvaccinated adults (31%) say they would be more likely to get vaccinated if one of the vaccines currently authorized for emergency use were to receive full approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Help employees understand vaccine safety. We’ve developed a comprehensive vaccine education curriculum designed to help employees understand the science behind vaccines and how they save lives.
- Respond to misinformation about vaccine safety, and encourage employees to speak with their healthcare provider about whether vaccines are right for them.
- Prepare for FDA approval. If, as expected, the FDA gives full approval of one or more of the COVID-19 vaccines later this year, you should be ready to redouble your vaccine outreach and education efforts and sustain workplace policies that make it as easy as possible for workers to get vaccinated.
5. Incentives that improve vaccine access may increase vaccinations and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in vaccination rates.
- Seventeen percent of unvaccinated adults overall say they would be more likely to get vaccinated if a mobile vaccine clinic came to their neighborhood, a share that rises to nearly one-fourth of unvaccinated Black adults (22%) and one-third of Hispanic adults.
- Thirteen percent of unvaccinated parents say they would be more likely to get a vaccine if they were provided with free childcare while they get the vaccine and recover from side effects.
- A large majority of unvaccinated workers (71%) don’t think employers should offer a cash bonus to employees who get vaccinated.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Host an on-site vaccination clinic at your workplace or partner with your local public health department to set up a mobile clinic nearby.
- Consider offering free or discounted childcare to workers who may need support while getting vaccinated or recovering from side effects.
- Be wary of large financial incentives and cash bonuses that could be perceived as coercive. Instead, focus on ways to make it easier for employees to get vaccinated, like offering free transportation or childcare.
Public health guidance on COVID-19 is constantly evolving. Health Action Alliance is committed to regularly updating our materials once we've engaged public health, business and communications experts about the implications of new guidance from the public health community and effective business strategies that align with public health goals. Together, we can turn the tide against COVID-19 and build a stronger, healthier future.