A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a think tank concentrating on health issues, found 37% of unvaccinated workers say they will quit their jobs if forced to either get vaccinated or take weekly Covid tests. And if their employer mandates vaccines and doesn’t offer the testing option, 72% of the unvaccinated workers say they will quit.
If the surveyed unvaccinated workers follow through on their threats to quit, it would lead to somewhere between 5% to 9% of workers leaving their jobs, depending upon what rules they face.
But the survey results come with a big caveat: Many unvaccinated workers who say they would quit may not follow through on that threat.
“What people say in a survey, and what they would do when faced with loss of a job can be two different things,” noted Liz Hamel, vice president and director of public opinion and survey research at KFF, in an interview earlier this month ahead of the latest survey.
Several major employers, including United Airlines and Tyson Foods, that have imposed vaccine mandates report nearly all their workers have complied with the rules.
Although 24% of adults in the survey said they knew someone who left their job over a vaccine mandate, only 5% of unvaccinated adults said they had actually quit over an employer vaccine mandate. Those who say they have quit represent 1% of US adults.
The survey, published in the October 2021 Vaccine Monitor Report, was conducted between October 14 to October 24 using phone interviews with more than 1,500 American adults.
Potentially bad news for the job market
The opposition to any kind of Covid rules among the unvaccinated isn’t a major surprise said Hamel earlier this month.
She said while earlier in the year many of the unvaccinated had not been able to arrange to get a shot or had been putting it off. But the survey found that 72% of adults now have gotten at least the first of two vaccine shots. So today, with vaccines easily available, the remaining unvaccinated workers have a strongly held belief that vaccines are a bad idea.
“Those unvaccinated workers are the strongest hold outs,” she said.
Mandates and compliance
Employer vaccine mandates are becoming more common, even ahead of the new rules going into effect. The survey found 25% of workers now say their employer has required them to get the Covid-19 vaccine, nearly triple the 9% who faced mandates in a June survey.
Some employers, including government contractors and most health care workers, will be required to mandate vaccines without a testing option for their workers, to comply with federal rules. Federal employees will also be required to get vaccinated.
Some other employers may require vaccines without offering the testing option, especially those who believe it is too difficult or expensive to coordinate a widespread testing program.