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36% of U.S. workers say they are now required to be vaccinated, poll shows

Doctor on vaccine mandates, COVID-19 cases
Doctor on vaccine mandate opposition and COVID-19 cases 07:50

A growing share of American workers say their employers are requiring them to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the latest Gallup poll tracking the pandemic. The percentage of workers under a vaccine mandate is now 36%, up from 9% in July. 

Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. workers say their employer encourages but does not require vaccination, down from 6 in 10 in July, Gallup found in the survey covering October 18 to October 24. Another 25% of workers say their employers don't have a vaccination policy.

The latest data underscore shifting workplace policies ahead of the Biden administration's vaccine requirement for large employers, which isn't yet in effect. While a majority of workers voice support for vaccine requirements — Gallup found 56% are in favor of them — a minority object. 

The question is whether vaccine-resistant workers will quit and look for work elsewhere due to such mandates, Gallup noted. That includes pro-vaccine workers who may search for new jobs if their employers don't require the jab, the polling company said.

"Nearly one in three U.S. workers are poised to look for a new job if their employer sets a policy on COVID-19 vaccinations with which they disagree,"according to a Gallup article posted on Friday.

Some first responders are quitting over vaccine mandates 03:35

"The latest data indicate that 30% of unvaccinated workers plan to leave their current job, take early retirement or move to smaller companies not impacted by the vaccine mandate rather than take the jab," Lindsey Piegza, chief economist with investment bank Stifel, said in a report.

Already, some workers are switching jobs due to their employers' vaccine requirement, although for the numbers aren't large. About 5% of unvaccinated workers told the Kaiser Family Foundation that they would quit due to a COVID-19 shot requirement. Still, that represents just 1% of all U.S. adults, the Kaiser survey noted. 

Although more job seekers are searching for terms such as "no vaccine required," it's still a sliver of all job searches, at about 0.01%, said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at Indeed Hiring Lab. That suggests that vaccination requirements aren't likely to become a major labor force issue, she added.

New York City workers protest COVID vaccine mandate 02:09

"The share of searches for 'no vaccinations required' is so, so small," she said. "If that went upwards, I would have a different answer — but it would have to really, really rise, and it is nowhere near that."

Of course, there are anecdotal reports of workers around the U.S. who are against COVID-19 vaccinations and who are quitting or getting fired — ranging from a couple of television personalities to hundreds of first-line responders. But with 161 million workers in the U.S., it's unclear how large of an issue this will pose.

"It seems there is a difference between people saying they may quit if it's required versus whether they go through with it," Konkel noted. "That is something we have to wait and see, but to me it's not a headwind for the labor market."

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