Barriers to COVID-19 vaccine include inability to miss work, lose wages

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 7:54 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - You may have heard a lot about vaccine hesitancy.

But what about people who want to get the shots, but can’t-- or maybe are on the fence?

Real barriers still exist for many people.

The 19 News Vaccine Team found your workplace could be one of them.

For some people, getting the COVID-19 vaccine and possibly missing a day of work isn’t an option.

“If they had side effects and they needed a day off because they were feeling sick, that would be a big problem for them,” said Kate Warren, a research fellow at The Center for Community Solutions.

They looked at vaccinations by ZIP code in Cuyahoga County and found disparities based on where people lived.

They found more than 50% of people who live in many suburban and outlying zip codes have been vaccinated.

In several cities of Cleveland ZIP codes, especially on the east side, also found vaccination rates are still below 25%.

“So where there are lower vaccination rates, there are higher rates of folks in that hourly or temporary work category,” Warren said.

Many of these people may want the vaccine and others may be on the fence.

Several other factors may come into play too.

“Really what this is about is access. That for some people this is an access issue, a barrier for them to not getting the vaccine,” she said.

There are possible solutions.

Warren said employers can get creative by staggering employee schedules or having a pop-up vaccine clinic at work.

“By encouraging employees to get vaccinated and by making a way for them to get vaccinated and ensuring that they can get that PTO, they’ll actually be making their workplaces safer,” she said.

And this doesn’t have to cost employers.

Warren pointed out the American Rescue Plan will provide tax credits to employers to cover that PTO for people who need the vaccine.

“The burden doesn’t have to be on the employer. What the employers need to do is take that information, know that that tax credit is available to them, and make it known to their employees and work with them to encourage them to get vaccinated,” she said.

The Center for Community Solutions has looked at other factors like race when it comes to vaccine hesitancy.

They found worker status has a greater link to lower vaccination rates in Cuyahoga County.

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