(Bloomberg) – More than half of American adults are already vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the distribution of vaccines has been uneven, reaching white people in a greater proportion than black and Hispanic people, relative to their percentage of the population.
While this gap is narrowing, one reason for the disparity stands out: People of color are more concerned about missing work if they experience side effects from the vaccine.
In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, nearly two-thirds of Hispanic respondents and more than half of black respondents said they were somewhat or very concerned that the covid vaccine could incapacitate them for a day or more. That contrasts with just 41% of white respondents in the unvaccinated adult survey.
Covid hit people of color the hardest in the United States. Part of the reason is that the “essential” workforce is demographically unbalanced, with more black and Hispanic workers. Farm workers and meat packers, bus drivers and postal workers, grocery store clerks and home health aides all worked in person during the pandemic.
The disproportionately white professional class, who spent the pandemic in front of screens, are also more likely to get paid sick leave. Now that vaccines are widely available, the same dynamic that intensified the virus’s threat to essential workers prevents some from protecting themselves from it.
Paid leave, financial incentives, and vaccines administered on the spot are all strategies employers can use to increase vaccine acceptance, Kaiser survey data suggests. The Biden Administration has promoted tax credits for small employers to grant paid time off for vaccines, and some companies offer other incentives.
If the U.S. considers certain workers essential, employers now have a way to prove it: letting people get vaccinated without risking their pay.
Original Note: Coronavirus Newsletter: The Choice Between a Shot and Work
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