Study finds COVID vaccination rates differ by occupation

While COVID-19 vaccines are available to all adults in England, new research suggests a disproportionate number of people who have not gotten the vaccine work in public-facing jobs. In addition, people who work from home were more likely to be vaccinated, suggesting ‘work from policies’ are limited in their effectiveness in preventing hospitalizations and COVID-19 deaths.

Increasing vaccination coverage would help in curbing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and protect the public from infection.

Led by Martie Van Tongeren of the University of Manchester, the team proposes implanting policies or strategies that give people who cannot work from home the opportunity to get vaccinated.

“This includes many elementary occupations where it may be difficult to get time off work to be vaccinated, or where workers may not have the spare time or resources to access vaccination or are worried about missing work because of the side effects of the vaccines,” wrote the researchers.

The study “Differences in COVID-19 vaccination coverage by occupation in England: a national linked data study” was recently published on the medRxiv* preprint server.

How they did it

Access to vaccination data was made possible through the NHS England’s National Immunisation Management System and the Office for National Statistics Heal Data Asset which contained data on population number, mortality rates, and more.

The population for the current study was English adults between the ages of 40 to 64 who were still living on August 31, 2021 and had reported an occupation for the 2011 census.

The limited age range was because this age group is more likely to be in stable employment from 2011 and 2020. Additionally, because England’s vaccination campaign for adults aged 40 to 44 began on April 30, the researchers assume that most people who wanted a vaccine would have received their second dose before the end of August 2021.

The study population had an average age of 52.8 years and about 81.5% self-identified as White British. About 51.4% of adults were female, and 21.5% had comorbidity that placed them at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection.

Vaccination differences by level of occupation

Of the 14 million adults living in England who reported employment in 2011, final results showed that 88.2% were fully vaccinated by August 31, 2021.

Only 2.7% had received one COVID-19 dose by the end of August and 9.1% if adults were not vaccinated.

Association between vaccination rates and ability to work from home at unit group level
Association between vaccination rates and ability to work from home at unit group level

About 90.8% of people in administrative or secretarial occupations were vaccinated, followed by people in professional occupations (90.7%), and managers, directors, and people in senior positions (90.6%).

People working entry-level jobs had the lowest vaccination rates. As of August 2021, a total of 83.1% of people had received a two-dose vaccine.

“Our findings that vaccination rates are higher among managers, directors and senior officials and in people working in professional occupations, compared with those working in elementary occupations, are in line with studies showing that vaccination rates in the UK and the US are higher in more wealthy areas and amongst people from higher socio-economic status,” explained the researchers.

Vaccination differences by type of occupation

About 50 of 370 occupations looked at for the study had over a 92% vaccination rate.

People with the highest vaccination rates had the following jobs: senior police officers (95.5%), school secretaries (94.8%), senior officers in fire, ambulance, prison, and other related services (94.6%), and police officers (94.4%).

High vaccination coverage was also seen in people who work in education — primary and nursery education teaching professionals, teaching assistants, senior professionals of educational establishments — workers in national and local government positions, and solicitors.

Six occupations had lower than 80% vaccination rates, making up 1.8% of the study population.

Jobs with the lowest vaccine coverage included packers, bottlers, canners, and fillers (77.1%), acupuncturists, chiropractors and osteopaths (77.2%), fitness instructors (77.8%), valets and cleaners (78.65%), elementary construction occupations (78.7%), and waiters/waitresses (78.9%).

Seventy out of 370 jobs had a vaccination rate lower than 85% including chefs, cleaners, people working entry-level storage jobs, taxi drivers, van drivers, and carpenters.

Other low vaccination rates were commonly seen in the three largest occupational groups working with the public. This included entry-level sales and retail jobs, kitchen and catering assistants, and caregiver/home carers.

Vaccination rates were higher with jobs that made it possible to work from home.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:
Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Written by

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira graduated with a Bachelor's in Integrative Neuroscience, where she then pursued graduate research looking at the long-term effects of adolescent binge drinking on the brain's neurochemistry in adulthood.


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