Feb 23, 2021

Editorial Letter: COVID-19 Vaccine Industry Response

This editorial letter originally appeared in WWD February 2021 as "COVID-19 Vaccine Industry Response"

Bob Crossen, senior managing editor
Bob Crossen, senior managing editor

Toward the end of 2020, a handful of vaccines for COVID-19 began distribution in the U.S. to essential workers through tiered deployment. Among those tiers are water and wastewater workers.

But there is hesitancy in the U.S. around those vaccines with many indicating they do not feel the vaccines are safe and are choosing not to get the vaccination. These attitudes and feelings have also been seen in the water and wastewater industry, so I conducted a survey of our weekly newsletter audience on the matter. Are industry professionals going to get the vaccine? Why or why not?

By Jan. 15, the survey had 73 responses. Of those responses, 67% said they would get the vaccine, 23.3% said they would not receive the vaccine, and the remaining 9.6% said they were undecided. These responses differ quite a bit from a poll in the Water/Wastewater Operators of the World, Unite! Facebook group — a group of 14,000 operators and industry professionals — where the responses indicated a greater interest in not receiving the vaccine.

The core arguments of those who indicated they will receive the vaccine were that it was the best opportunity to return to a degree of societal normalcy, that it would allow them to travel and see family and friends, and that it was overall the right thing to do. Those who indicated they would not get the vaccine indicated distrust that the vaccine was properly tested and vetted, and their responses were particularly concerned about long-term health effects they say could not have been tested in a less than 12-month development cycle.

Regardless of where our readers fall on this spectrum, I think it is important to open the conversation on this topic without casting immediate judgment on one another. I know that some utilities have already begun internal conversations about the vaccine to determine how they will proceed with their workforce, and as such, I’d like to hear from you.

How are your workers reacting to the vaccine? What are their biggest concerns? How are you organizing vaccinations if your employees want to get them? Please let me know via email. I would like to share more of your thoughts with the industry. As such, I will keep identities anonymous. Simply email me below.

And for those who want to respond to the newsletter survey, it is still open at bit.ly/wwdcovidvaccinesurvey. Read the initial results article at bit.ly/wwdcovidvaccine1.

About the author

Bob Crossen is senior managing editor for WWD and iWWD. Crossen can be reached at bcrossen@sgcmail.com