Data from a new survey revealed that nearly half of construction workers would pass on being vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to a survey from Morning Consult, 53% of respondents who identified as working in the construction industry say they would get vaccinated if a COVID-19 vaccine was offered to them. The findings are drawn from 17 surveys conducted from Oct. 29 to Jan. 29 among nearly 17,000 employed adults.
The Morning Consult survey tracked responses from people in essential services, ranging from health care and education to retail, transportation and insurance. The survey shows those in higher education — college and post-grad — were the most likely to get the vaccine at 77%. The group with the lowest number wanting the vaccine was the food and beverage industry at less than half (47%).
In guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), construction workers are among the non-health care essential workers who can receive the vaccine in Phase 1c of the rollout plan. Phase 1b consists of frontline essential workers like police, firefighters and grocery store workers and persons aged ≥75 years. Health care workers were prioritized in the initial rollout.
Given the hesitancy among construction workers to receive the vaccine, construction and roofing industry attorneys have said that, while it’s legal for employers to require vaccinations, they may want to make it voluntary. The survey's findings suggest that, on top of contending with exemptions like health-related or religious reasons, roofers that mandate vaccination may face pushback.
“Are you going to terminate the employee who refuses to get vaccinated without having a protected reason for doing so?” writes Philip Siegel, a partner and shareholder with Hendrick, Phillips, Salzman & Siegel. “You may have a group of employees that approach you in a united effort to object to a mandatory vaccine policy. That concerted activity by your employees concerning the terms and conditions of employment is protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.”
Morning Consult’s survey comes out nearly two weeks after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued stronger worker safety guidance on how to prevent COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. The guidance addresses vaccination by recommending that employers make a COVID-19 vaccine available at no cost to eligible employees, and to not distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated workers, meaning those who are vaccinated should still follow protective measures like wearing a mask.
“More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people are out of work as a result of this crisis. Employers and workers can help our nation fight and overcome this deadly pandemic by committing themselves to making their workplaces as safe as possible,” said Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor M. Patricia Smith.
According to the CDC, 463,659 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Feb. 10. Although cases are on the decline, experts are concerned about more contagious and potentially deadlier COVID-19 variants appearing in the U.S. and causing spikes in cases. A release from Pfizer, one of the manufacturers of a COVID vaccine, states that its vaccine helps neutralize mutations in COVID-19 found in the U.K. and South Africa variants.