Nearly half of adults in the United States who have not received a coronavirus vaccine are concerned about missing work as a result of side effects from the shot, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released this month. The findings highlight a key obstacle to vaccination, particularly for the 25 percent of American workers who do not have any paid sick leave.

Economic stimulus legislation created tax credits that reimburse some employers for granting time off to get vaccinated or recover from side effects. But employers are not required to provide this leave. Although many employers are offering time off for employees to receive a vaccine, it’s the recovery that has workers more worried.

Nearly half of unvaccinated adults worry about missing work because of side effects

Adults who have not received a coronavirus vaccine are concerned about ...

Serious side effects

76%

Safety of coronavirus

vaccines

70%

Missing work because

of side effects

48%

Social Security Number or

gov. ID might be required

34%

Getting the vaccine from a

place they trust

32%

Potential out-of-pocket cost

32%

Taking time off work to

get the vaccine

20%

Difficulty traveling to a

vaccination site

15%

Note: Respondents could choose more than

one answer

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor

(April 15-29)

THE WASHINGTON POST

Nearly half of unvaccinated adults worry about missing work

because of side effects

Adults who have not received a coronavirus vaccine are concerned about ...

Serious side effects

76%

70%

Safety of coronavirus vaccines

Missing work because

of side effects

48%

Social Security Number or

government ID might be required

34%

Missing work because of side effects is a much more common concern than taking time off to get vaccinated

Getting the vaccine from a

place they trust

32%

Potential out-of-pocket cost

32%

Taking time off work to get

the vaccine

20%

Difficulty traveling to a

vaccination site

15%

Note: Respondents could choose more than one answer

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor (April 15-29)

THE WASHINGTON POST

Nearly half of unvaccinated adults worry about missing work because of side effects

Adults who have not received a coronavirus vaccine are concerned about ...

Serious side effects

76%

Safety of coronavirus

vaccines

70%

Missing work because

of side effects

48%

Missing work because of

side effects is a more common concern than taking time off to get vaccinated

Social Security Number or

gov. ID might be required

34%

Getting the vaccine from a

place they trust

32%

Potential out-of-pocket cost

32%

Taking time off work to

get the vaccine

20%

Difficulty traveling to a

vaccination site

15%

Note: Respondents could choose more than one answer

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor (April 15-29)

THE WASHINGTON POST

Concerns about missing work were particularly acute among Black and Hispanic workers. According to Kaiser Family Foundation polling, Black and Hispanic adults are less likely to have received a coronavirus vaccine than White adults.

Unvaccinated Black and Hispanic adults are more concerned about missing work because of vaccine side effects

Percentage of unvaccinated who are very or somewhat concerned about missing work as a result of side effects

White 41%

40% of pop. has not received a dose

Black 55%

49% of pop. has not received a dose

Hispanic 64%

53% of pop. has not received a dose

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine

Monitor (April 15-29)

THE WASHINGTON POST

Unvaccinated Black and Hispanic adults are more concerned about missing work because of vaccine side effects

Percent of unvaccinated who are very or somewhat concerned about missing work as a result of side effects

White 41%

40% of pop. has

not received a dose

Black 55%

49% of pop. has

not received a dose

Hispanic 64%

53% of pop. has

not received a dose

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor (April 15-29)

THE WASHINGTON POST

Unvaccinated Black and Hispanic adults are more concerned about missing work because of vaccine side effects

Percentage of unvaccinated who are very or somewhat concerned about missing work as a result of side effects

White 41%

40% of pop. has not received a dose

Black 55%

49% of pop. has not received a dose

Hispanic 64%

53% of pop. has not received a dose

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor (April 15-29)

THE WASHINGTON POST

About a quarter of Americans in private industry did not have paid sick leave as of March 2020, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An earlier study, which broke this data down by race, ethnicity and education, found that Black and Hispanic workers, as well as workers without college degrees, were less likely to have paid leave than the country as a whole.

Those groups are also less likely to have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to Kaiser Family Foundation polling.

68% of adult workers had access to paid leave in 2017-2018

56% of adults received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by April

White

+5 ppt

+4

Black

-2

-5

Hispanic

-17

-9

College

degree

+11

+19

No college

degree

-7

-8

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor

(April 15-29)

THE WASHINGTON POST

68% of adult workers had access to paid leave in 2017-2018

56% of adults received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by April

White

+5 percentage points

+4

-2

-5

Black

Hispanic

-17

-9

College degree

+11

+19

-8

No college degree

-7

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor (April 15-29)

THE WASHINGTON POST

66% of all workers had access to

paid leave in 2017-2018

White

+0.3 percentage points

Black

-3.4 ppt

Hispanic

-16.1 ppt

Part-time

-42.7 ppt

Service

-22.8 ppt

THE WASHINGTON POST

68% of adult workers had access to paid leave in 2017-2018

56% of adults received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by April

White

+5 ppt

+4

Black

-2

-5

Hispanic

-17

-9

College

degree

+11

+19

No college

degree

-7

-8

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor (April 15-29)

THE WASHINGTON POST

Even for workers who have sick leave, missing a day or two because of side effects can be daunting. Half of American workers with paid sick leave have just six days or fewer each year.

Missing time is not an unreasonable concern. Although serious side effects from coronavirus vaccines are rare, in clinical trials, about 1 in 6 people ages 18 to 55 had a fever after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, and about 1 in 8 had a fever after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“One major barrier for people who say they want to get vaccinated as soon as possible is that they’re too busy,” said Liz Hamel, vice president of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “They don’t have time off. These are people who don’t need convincing — they just need access.”


People sit in an observation area after receiving the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at an immunization event organized by the Association of Latino Professionals for America held at the Leon de Juda evangelical church in Boston on March 18. (Adam Glanzman for The Washington Post)

Whether they have access is, for now, in the hands of their employers. Although the March stimulus bill created tax credits for small- and medium-sized businesses to reimburse the costs of vaccine-related time off, they aren’t required to do so, and about half of American workers in the private sector are employed by businesses that are too big to qualify for the credits.

Some large businesses have chosen to give employees paid time off anyway. Boeing and Darden, for instance, provide two hours of paid leave per vaccine dose. But when it comes to side effects, employees are expected to use sick leave.

About 1 in 5 of the unvaccinated Americans in the Kaiser survey said they wanted to get the vaccine as soon as possible. But even for those who did not — the “vaccine hesitant” group — providing paid leave could make a big difference. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than half of vaccine-hesitant Hispanic workers would be more likely to get vaccinated if their employers provided time off to recover from side effects.

“Early on, the focus was more on how to get people appointments and have supply to keep up with demand,” Hamel said. “Now, we have enough supply, so it’s more about what is keeping people from getting the vaccine.”