SURVEY: Construction Workers Divided Over COVID-19 Vaccine
New research shows that a high percentage of essential workers are not sold on the COVID-19 vaccine.
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UPDATE (February 11th, 2021)— According to new research, a significant percentage of essential workers in the United States are apprehensive about receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. Polls conducted by Morning Consult show that just 56 percent of employed adults in the United States said that they would receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Only 53 percent of construction workers surveyed said they would be vaccinated.
“As states struggle to get COVID-19 vaccines to those most affected by the pandemic and debate rages over how to prioritize essential workers, the findings indicate employees in the service and industrial sectors were less likely to say they’d get a COVID-19 vaccine than those in financial services, technology, and other white-collar fields,” read the survey results.
Unfortunately, the same essential workers whose reluctance to receive the COVID-19 vaccination is reflected in this survey are also the groups of people at the highest risk of exposure to the coronavirus. In fact, research from late 2020 showed that in some areas construction workers were five times more likely to be hospitalized with the coronavirus than workers in other occupations.
The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission clarified in December 2020 that employers in the United States are legally allowed to require their employees receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
CDC Recommends Construction Workers For Early COVID Vaccination
UPDATE (January 7th, 2021) — The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists construction workers in Phase 1c of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, putting the industry near the top of the queue for the vaccine.
Phase 1a of the rollout, currently underway, prioritizes healthcare personnel and residents of long term care facilities to receive the vaccine first. Phase 1b will include persons over 75 years old, as well as what the CDC has labeled as “frontline essential workers,” a group that includes first responders, educators and grocery store employees. Phase 1c includes “other essential workers” not covered in 1b, such as those in the construction, food service and transportation industries.
It is important to note that the CDC’s recommendations are non-binding and are intended to serve as guidance for state and local officials. The overall timeline of the vaccine rollout will also vary on state-by-state.
“Prioritizing who gets the vaccine and when is not a straightforward or easy process,” Greg Sizemore, vice president of health, safety and environment at the Associated Builders and Contractors, told Construction Dive. “The vital industry sectors on the front lines of defeating this global health crisis, such as medical and health care professionals, could depend on a safe and healthy construction workforce to deliver essential goods and services.”
For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine, check with your local and state governments.
What Construction Professionals Need to Know About the CDC’s Vaccine Plan
(December 10th, 2020) — Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a formal distribution plan for the COVID-19 vaccine. It recommend healthcare workers as well as residents and staff of long-term care facilities be vaccinated first, followed by a broad range of essential workers.
Less clearly laid out in the CDC guidelines are what exactly constitutes an essential worker. Construction workers have been considered essential workers in many states since the start of the pandemic, but were not specifically listed under the CDC’s examples of essential workers.
Asked if he was concerned that construction workers were not directly named in the CDC’s latest materials, Brian Turmail, the vice president of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), downplayed the issue. “Those are just examples,” he told the web site constructiondive.com.
In mid-October, AGC president and CEO Stephen Sandherr wrote public letters to President Donald Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden calling for the implementation of a nationwide vaccine distribution plan. In the letters, Sandherr put forward three recommendations:
- Establish and implement a nationwide plan;
- Prioritize distribution of vaccines to vulnerable populations and essential workers;
- Ensure that vaccination distributions do not lead to needless economic disruptions.
“The advent of the new vaccines may, ironically, lead to more economic disruption if not handled in a manner that inspires confidence,” Sandherr wrote in the letters. “AGC respectfully urges you to establish a nationwide vaccination distribution plan that includes our three recommendations.”
Based on this most recent guidance, the CDC’s vaccination plan appears to mostly fall in line with all three of the AGC’s recommendations. The pressure is certainly on for this vaccination process to be pulled off as smoothly as possible. CDC Director Robert Redfield recently said that the period from December through February could be the “most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”