Jul 12, 2021 - Health

Most unvaccinated people have low incomes

Data: U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey; Note: Does not include respondents who didn't report income; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than half of unvaccinated Americans live in households that make less than $50,000 annually, according to the latest Census Bureau data.

Why it matters: Making it easier for the working poor to get the COVID-19 vaccine, without dinging their already-low incomes, could help boost the country's vaccination rates.

The big picture: Vaccination has been politicized, but juggling work schedules and child care could be bigger factors than politics.

  • "A lot of low-income workers are working hard to provide food and housing," said Julia Raifman, a health policy professor at Boston University. "That may mean it's hard for them to find a time to get vaccinated."
  • Workers also may worry about having to take unpaid time off if they come down with any vaccine side effects. Raifman has heard anecdotal stories of employees receiving less favorable hours if they miss work.

What to watch: Whether more employers mandate vaccination or provide rewards to workers who get the shot.

  • However, rewards may not move the needle a lot if companies don't make it easy to get the vaccine or offer full pay for any time off.

The bottom line: Many low-income workers still want to get vaccinated. It's just not always easy.

  • One-quarter of unvaccinated people who make less than $50,000 still say they either "definitely" or "probably" will get the vaccine, according to the Census Bureau. That rises to two-thirds of people when including those who are receptive or "unsure" about getting the vaccine.

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to show one-quarter of unvaccinated people who make less than $50,000 either "definitely" or "probably" will get the vaccine, and two-thirds of unvaccinated people either will "definitely/probably" get the vaccine or are receptive/"unsure" of getting the vaccine.

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