As the delta variant of Covid-19 spreads rapidly across the United States and more cities are requiring masks again, many companies and employers are telling their employees to get vaccinated or leave. The majority of all new Covid-19 cases in the United States are among 18-30 year olds who are unvaccinated, and is the delta variant according to the CDC and Johns Hopkins University. It is causing more severe symptoms than last years original alpha variant, and is significantly more contagious. Despite watching their friends get hospitalized, younger adults are still hesitant to get the vaccine says Dr. Ben Wantanabe, a medical director for Kaiser Permanente.
The federal government, Disney World theme park employees, government contractors, several large hospital systems and a growing long list of small employers are telling their employees, no vaccine, no job. Why did employers get bolder in their vaccine requirements? It stems, in part, from a case in Houston, Texas between the Houston Methodist Hospital system and a few of its employees who refused to be vaccinated. After the case went to federal court, the court ruled the hospital can indeed require employees be vaccinated even though the vaccine is only approved by the FDA under emergency use.
While some younger adults say they don’t want the vaccine because they don’t think it’s safe, that is the minority opinion now. Dr. Hamza Abidi, a senior infectious disease expert with the National Institutes of Health says, “more and more [younger adults] report they either don’t see and don’t make the connection to the vaccine’s importance or dislike being told they have to get it, kind of a don’t tell me what to do childlike reaction, it puts more of them in danger and they can’t see beyond their own nose and how it negatively affect them and those around them that they care about.”
A survey of Fortune 500 companies in the United States found that 71% of companies were studying or planning to require employees be vaccinated in order to return to their offices or to keep their jobs. Among small businesses the figure was at 43%. The survey was conducted by the Texas News Express from July 17 to July 22 with a 5% margin or error.
While almost 60% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, who isn’t tend to fall into a few categories. Those earning less than $35,000, those age 18-24 and those in poorer states are overwhelming the demographics of who is resisting the vaccine the most according to data from several studies from the CDC, University of Texas, and Johns Hopkins University.
By contrast, the wealthiest Americans are almost 100% vaccinated, those earning over $250,000 have a 98% vaccination rate, those earning between $100,000 and $250,000 have a 91% vaccination rate and those earning $75,000 to $100,000 have a 84% vaccination rate, regardless of age, or economic health of the state they live in.
United Airlines now requires all customer facing employees and managers to be vaccinated. Those that chose not to be vaccinated are moved to positions that do not require direct contact with passengers and less contact with other employees, but there are only a limited number of those types of jobs, so if you haven’t been vaccinated yet and want one of those few jobs hidden away somewhere, you’re probably out of luck says Tomer Green, who took an early retirement from United last year when the airline, like all other airlines, were looking to shed financial obligations to get through the pandemic.
In our survey, we asked large U.S. chain restaurants if they required their employees to be vaccinated. 18% said yes and a further 49% said they were considering it. Epic Systems said it will require all of its U.S. staff to be vaccinated by October 1. The company is one of the largest softer suppliers to hospitals and medical providers.
“What’s most perplexing, is that of the group of younger adults who are not getting vaccinated, a small group within this population still have a fear or hesitation of getting the vaccine due to vaccine safety despite overwhelming data from over a billion doses for over a year now with the rate of negative side effects being less than most other commonly taken drugs including aspirin,” says Abidi. “This is really less about facts and fear than and more about perception and peer pressure from within their community.”