The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations. Using a combination of surveys and qualitative research, this project tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development and distribution unfold, including vaccine confidence and acceptance, information needs, trusted messengers and messages, as well as the public’s experiences with vaccination.

Key Findings:

  • COVID-related business closures, loss of work, and related financial struggles are impacting lower-income households at disproportionate levels. Workers with household incomes less than $40,000 were more likely to report having to miss work due to a COVID-related sickness or concern and were less likely to say their employer provides paid time off if they get sick from COVID-19 or need to quarantine following a COVID-19 exposure. Six in ten workers with household incomes less than $40,000 report missing work for COVID concerns during the past three months, compared to fewer than four in ten of higher income workers. In addition, one-third (32%) of workers in households with incomes below $40,000 report getting paid time off if they get sick from COVID-19 compared to more than half of those earning $40,000 or more.
  • Among workers who had to miss work due to COVID-19 concerns or sickness (42% of all workers), about one in five say missing work had a “major impact” on the level of stress in their family or on their family’s finances. Overall, about one in ten workers say they missed work due to COVID concerns and that it had a “major impact” on their family but this rises to one in four workers in households with an income under $40,000.
  • Amidst the financial uncertainty, it is perhaps unsurprising that a small but notable share of workers say they have either gone to work or sent their child to school or daycare when they either had or were exposed to COVID-19 because they couldn’t afford to miss work. One in ten(11%) workers say they have gone to work when they had COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed to the virus because they couldn’t afford to take the time off, rising to about three in ten among those in lower-income households (those earning less than $40,000 annually). Additionally, five percent of employed parents say they have sent their child to school or daycare when they had COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed to the virus because they couldn’t take the time off work. Fifteen percent of workers whose employer does not offer paid time if they get sick from COVID-19 say they have gone into work when they had COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed because they couldn’t afford to take the time off (compared to six percent of those whose employer offers paid time off).
  • Overall, lower-income families and workers, as well as members of racial and ethnic minority groups, report a disproportionate impact on their finances in the latest surge of coronavirus cases during the omicron wave. While the share of U.S. adults who reported difficulty paying bills or expenses wasn’t as widespread as seen during previous coronavirus waves, challenges remain for some households – most notably nearly half of those with household incomes less than $40,000 annually say they have had problems affording at least one of these expenses during the past 3 months, roughly four times the rate among those with incomes of at least $90,000 a year.

Four In Ten Workers Had To Miss Work Due To COVID-19, Many Don’t Receive Paid Time Off For COVID-Related Absences

This month’s KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor explored how the recent omicron surge impacted the economic stability of U.S. families and workers. Four in ten workers (42%) say they had to miss work at least once in the past three months because of a COVID-19 related concern or sickness. This includes one in four workers (26%) who say they had to miss work to quarantine following a COVID-19 exposure, one in five who missed work because they tested positive for COVID-19, and one in eight (13%) who missed work because their place of employment was closed or reduced hours due to COVID-19 concerns. Additionally, three in ten parents (28%) say they had to miss work in the past three months because they had to stay home with a child who had to quarantine, or their child’s school went virtual due to COVID-19 concerns.

Lower-income workers are more likely than those with higher incomes to report missing work in the past three months due to COVID-related concerns, particularly when it comes to workplace closures. Six in ten workers with household incomes less than $40,000 report missing work for COVID concerns during the past three months, compared to less than four in ten of higher income workers. In particular, one-third of lower-income workers (35%) say they missed work because their workplace was closed or had reduced hours, compared to fewer than one in ten among workers with higher incomes. Half of Hispanic workers (47%) say they have had to miss work in the past three months due to COVID-19-related issues as did four in ten White workers (42%) and more than one-third (35%) of Black workers.

One In Five WORKERS WHO MISSED WORK DUE TO COVID Report It Had Major Impact ON FAMILY FINANCES OR STRESS LEVEL

Among the 42% of workers who had to miss work due to COVID-19 concerns or sickness, six in ten (62%) say missing work had a “major impact” or “minor impact” on their family’s stress level and four in ten (44%) say it has impacted their family’s finances. About one in five say missing work had a “major impact” on the level of stress in their family (22%) or on their family’s finances (19%).

Overall, about one in ten workers say that they had to miss work due to COVID-related concerns in the past three months, and that missing work had a major impact on their family’s stress or finances. Individuals living in households with lower incomes are more likely to report that missing work had a major negative impact on their family. One-fourth of workers in households with incomes less than $40,000 report missing work for COVID-concerns and say that this had a major impact on their family’s finances or the level of stress in their family, compared to less than one in ten in households with higher levels of income. One in five Hispanic adults (18%) report loss of work that had a major negative impact, as do about one in eight Black adults and one in ten White adults.

Many Lower-Income Workers Report Not Having Paid Time Off When Sick Or Needing To Quarantine

One way to protect employees’ health and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces is for employers to offer their employees paid time off. About half of workers (52%) say their employer provides paid time off if they get sick from COVID-19 while less than half report receiving paid time off if they need to quarantine (44%), or to stay home with a child (35%) who can’t attend school or daycare because of COVID-related concerns. Slightly more than one-third of all employees say their employer offers paid time off to get vaccinated or boosted (37%) or to recover from vaccine side effects (36%).

While half of all workers report paid time off if they are sick from COVID-19, getting time off to recover from COVID is less common among those in households with lower incomes. One-third (32%) of workers in households with incomes below $40,000 report getting paid time off if they get sick from COVID-19 compared to more than half (57%) of those earning $40,000 or more. Similarly, three in ten (28%) lower-income workers report having paid time off if they need to quarantine following a COVID-19 exposure compared to half of higher-income workers. About one-third of lower-income workers report being unaware if they receive paid time off in either of these instances.

Among those who report missing work due to COVID-19 concerns or sickness in the last three months, less than half report that their employer offers paid time off if they get sick from COVID-19 (48%), if they need to quarantine because of a COVID-19 exposure (42%), or if their child has to stay home from school or daycare (27%).

Without Paid Time Off, Some have To Continue Working When Sick Or Quarantining

A notable share of workers, especially among lower-income households, say they have gone to work amidst COVID-19 concerns because they couldn’t afford to miss work. One in ten workers (11%) say they have gone to work when they had COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed to the virus because they couldn’t afford to take the time off, rising to about three in ten among those in lower-income households (those earning less than $40,000 annually). Fifteen percent of workers whose employer does not offer paid time if they get sick from COVID-19 say they have gone into work when they had COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed because they couldn’t afford to take the time off (compared to six percent of those whose employer offers paid time off).

Additionally, five percent of employed parents say they have sent their child to school or daycare when they had COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed to the virus because they couldn’t take the time off work.

Many workers also report being exposed to coronavirus at work with one-third of those who tested positive or had to quarantine saying their exposure happened at their workplace. Half (52%) say their exposure occurred outside of work while an additional 15% are unsure where they were exposed to coronavirus.

Three In Ten Say Their Household Had Difficulty Paying Bills During Omicron Surge

Overall, about three in ten U.S. adults say their household has had difficulty paying bills over the past three months, during the latest wave of coronavirus cases with the omicron surge. This includes one in five (17%) who say they have fallen behind in paying credit cards or other bills, and about one in ten who say they have had problems paying for food (13%), medical bills (12%), affording health insurance (11%), or have fallen behind in their rent or mortgage payments (9%).

The share of households who experienced economic impacts during the omicron surge is somewhat lower than the level measured at other points during the pandemic (July 2020 and February 2021) when there was a large number of cases of the virus in the U.S. but before there were vaccines widely available.

While the share of U.S. adults who reported difficulty paying bills or expenses wasn’t as widespread as seen during previous coronavirus waves, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, as well as those with lower levels of income, are still reporting difficulty at higher rates.

Nearly half of Black adults (48%) and one-third of Hispanic adults (34%) report difficulty paying such bills, compared to a smaller share of White adults (22%). In addition, about half (47%) of those with household incomes less than $40,000 annually say they have had problems affording at least one of these expenses during the past 3 months, roughly four times the rate among those in families with incomes of at least $90,000 a year (12%).

Methodology

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.