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COVID-19 vaccination uptake and hesitancy reasons in food production workers.

BACKGROUND: Food production sites have been a high-risk location for SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks worldwide since early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Ireland has a high population rate of COVID-19 vaccination, but reports from food production sites suggest uptake is lower amongst workers despite prior outbreaks at these workplaces.

AIMS: To study COVID-19 vaccination rates, intent to undertake future vaccination and hesitancy reasons in food production workers.

METHODS: Data regarding vaccination status was collected via an online survey from workers at 8 food production sites in Ireland; those who were unvaccinated were asked for reasons for being unvaccinated and likelihood to future vaccination. Respondents were also asked for their usual trusted source of medical information.

RESULTS: N = 355 responses were received. The crude vaccination rate is 86% (N = 306). Those employed in the general operative class are more likely to be unvaccinated (N = 30; 18%) when compared to unvaccinated in all other job classes (N = 16; 9%: p < 0.01). The rate of vaccination is lower in those not born in Ireland compared to those born in Ireland (N = 110, 73% vs N = 192; 98%: p < 0.001). N = 35 (76%) of unvaccinated workers report they are very unlikely or unlikely to undertake vaccination in the future.

CONCLUSIONS: There is an observed lower-than-national vaccination rate in food production workers. Rates are lowest amongst those workers born overseas; targeting these groups with information responding to their concerns may increase uptake and reduce current and future health inequalities.

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