Lack of paid sick leave causing vaccine hesitancy for some

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Aside from possible side effects swaying a person’s decision to get vaccinated, the process itself can take some time. This can be a problem for hourly-paid employees who are required to request time off to get vaccinated. Dr. Swapna Reddy of ASU’s College of Health Solutions weighs in on the issue as we approach President Joe Biden’s July 4 deadline.

According to Reddy, the country’s vaccination rates have slowed down significantly — now the question is why are people choosing to not get vaccinated? Reportedly, just under half of those individuals are concerned that they may not receive paid time off in the case that they become sick after receiving the vaccine.

“What we know is that about 1/6 folks who get the vaccine will have a fever — I was one of them,” Reddy said. “It’s a valid concern, to be worried that you’ll have any side effects after receiving the vaccine.”

Reddy made the point that about 25% of Americans in the private sector don’t have paid sick leave to start and that the United States is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t have a federal paid sick leave policy. Instead, it’s a state-determined policy that varies greatly state by state.

She said that one of the most important ways to improve this percentage is to prevent “falling on false narratives”. Instead of simply chalking it up to vaccine hesitancy, Reddy emphasized that looking at the specific reasons why is absolutely crucial. “It seems to be a lot about access,” Reddy said—whether that means physical access to a vaccine or the ability to receive one without fear of losing sick pay afterward.

Swapna Reddy, JD, DrPH, MPH, Arizona State University College of Health Solutions

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