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Quitting over vaccine requirements? Polls find some workers consider the option but few are

The federal mandate was estimated to impact as many as 100 million Americans.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — President Joe Biden's announcement on Sept. 9 of a sweeping federal vaccine requirement for employers with more than 100 employees saw responses on both sides of the fence. 

The action was estimated to impact as many as 100 million Americans, which we saw that firsthand — even before the official mandate was in place.

A Houston hospital system back in June lost 153 employees who refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine to firings or resignations. But on the other side of the coin, companies like Southwest Airlines began offering employees a pay perk to keep staff in place.

So, how do people really feel about their employer requiring vaccination and if they actually quit over it? Two separate polls set out to find out just that. 

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In June 2021, a nationwide survey was conducted by three individuals from the University of Florida to gauge the opinions of the public workforce on the requirement. 

The survey, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sampled 1,036 people who "mirrored the diverse makeup" of the U.S. 

When asked what they would do if their employer required vaccines, those participating in the survey were given several options, of which they could select more than one.

Of those sampled, 16 percent responded that they would quit, look for another job, or both if their current employer enforced a vaccine requirement. 

That number takes a steep jump when the poll looked at a smaller pool of those sampled who identified themselves as being "vaccine-hesitant." Among this group, the survey reports 48 percent said they would quit or look for work elsewhere.

On the other hand, 63 percent of those surveyed did indicate that a vaccine mandate would make them feel "safer," according to the survey.

The Conversation noted that while people said they would quit over vaccine mandates, few do. It pointed to Indiana University Health, where 125 workers who quit are out of 35,800 total employees. And Delta Air Lines, which said fewer than 2 percent of its employees have quit over its vaccine policy.

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The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, "an ongoing research project tracking the public's attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations," was running simultaneously to the survey noted above.

It found that while half of the public it sampled believes employers should require their workers to be vaccinated, most don't want that type of action from their own employer.

According to the survey, the divide was pretty even with 51 percent saying yes to a requirement, outside of for people who have a "medical exemption," and 46 percent saying no such requirement should be in place. 

KFF also found similar data compared to the UF-involved survey when it comes to quitting as a result of a vaccine mandate. According to the survey, half of those it sampled say they would leave their job over a vaccine mandate.

The Conversation ultimately concluded that "vaccine mandates are unlikely to result in a wave of resignations – but they are likely to lead to a boost in vaccination rates."