COVID VaccinesReturn to WorkMental Health

Most Americans are comfortable returning to the office regardless of coworkers’ vaccination status

September 2, 2021, 9:30 AM UTC

About 64% of U.S. adults are vaccinated, but when it comes to return-to-the-office plans, workers say vaccine status doesn’t matter that much. 

About 72% of Americans are currently comfortable returning to work, according to a recent Harris poll of over 1,100 U.S. workers fielded in August 2021. 

Nearly six out of 10 workers, or 58%, say they’re comfortable returning to the office even if some of their coworkers are unvaccinated. Nearly half of workers surveyed, 42%, said it didn’t bother them if some employees remain unvaccinated, while another 33% reported they would return to the office with unvaccinated coworkers only if their employer required it. About 25% said they would not return under these conditions. 

This comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a huge spike in COVID cases, with the current seven-day average topping 142,000 new cases a day—prompting many employers to rethink their workplace safety protocols and return-to-the-office plans. 

In fact, over half of employers are planning to have some type of vaccine mandate in place by the end of the year, according to a recent August survey by Willis Towers Watson of nearly 1,000 companies. That’s up significantly from the just 29% of employers who reported they already have a vaccine mandate or plan to put one in place by the end of September 2021.

And more companies could rethink their vaccine requirements after the Federal Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine late last month. Moderna recently filed its application for full approval as well. 

In addition to vaccine mandates, 83% of workers surveyed by Harris said they’d feel safer at work if companies required all employees to wear masks. Over half of workers, 58%, said they were planning to wear a mask if they went back to work in-person.

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