Like it is for much of the U.S., demand for the COVID-19 vaccine in Ohio is steadily dropping and pharmacists should not expect construction workers to roll up their sleeves anytime soon.
In fact, workers in the construction industry are actually the least likely to get the vaccine, according to a study conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Vaccine hesitancy has inspired debates about whether or not employers should mandate employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to report to work.
Considering the estimates on unvaccinated workers, jobsites could be ripe for future outbreaks, which could severely impact the ability of contractors to finish projects on schedule. This comes at a time when contractors are already wrestling with supply chain issues and the escalating costs of building supplies.
An outbreak on any jobsite has the potential to shut down the project for up to two weeks, leaving the remaining healthy workers without a paycheck, as the worksite is disinfected and workers who are sick or were exposed are forced to quarantine.
The nationwide study found that the construction industry was the highest in the nation when it came to men and women choosing to not get the vaccine. Nearly half (46.4 percent) of construction workers surveyed said they would probably or definitely not get vaccinated if offered a COVID-19 shot.
The most frequently stated reasons for not getting the shot included a lack of trust in the vaccine’s effectiveness, general distrust in the government, concern about side effects and a general belief that the vaccine is not needed.
According to Dorsey Hager, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, a vaccine mandate could only be enforced through either collective bargaining or at the request of the project owner. He was not aware of any signatory contractors in his jurisdiction who were considering such a mandate at this time.
Hager and many of the Local Union building trades leaders in Central Ohio are urging their affiliated members to get the vaccine, as they walk a fine line between pushing vaccination, respecting an individual’s personal medical decision and placing signatory contractors in a potentially perilous situation if an outbreak would occur.