A majority of small business owners support COVID-19 vaccine mandates for their employees, a poll from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife found, as debates over the controversial issue heat up across the country.
The poll determined that 64 percent of small business owners back President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE’s federal mandate for companies with at least 100 employees to require vaccination or weekly testing. An equal percentage approved of business-initiated vaccine requirements as well.
Sixty percent of these business owners also said they approve of requiring proof of vaccination from their customers.
Half of those surveyed said they expect to or are already requesting proof of vaccination from customers, an increase from 38 percent in June before the delta variant became the dominant strain. A higher percentage, 61 percent, said they are likely to or have required their employees to get their COVID-19 shots.
The survey found that retailers have the broadest support for vaccine mandates for employees, at 70 percent, and for proof of vaccination for their customers, at 68 percent. Ten percent of all small business owners said they mandate vaccines for customers — a boost from 3 percent in June.
Forty-three percent of these owners said they are likely to replace employees who don’t get the vaccine or participate in testing, though only 10 percent said they already have.
The poll surveyed about 500 small business owners between Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, and calculated a credibility interval of 5 percentage points among all respondents.
The poll comes as several businesses and industries across the country struggle with labor shortages. Almost half of respondents who are actively hiring said it’s difficult to find potential employees with the necessary skills — a 15 percentage point jump from June.
“While it is encouraging to see more optimism around hiring plans in the latest poll, small businesses are still facing a challenging, ever-changing environment, especially when it comes to recruiting workers,” said Cynthia Smith, the senior vice president of regional business at MetLife.
A record 10.9 million job openings were recorded in July, falling slightly to 10.4 million openings in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Amid the shortages, some businesses and business organizations have expressed concerns that any vaccine mandate will exacerbate the shortage problem, with some requesting the Biden administration delay implementation of its vaccinate-or-test rule.
Federal health officials have consistently defended vaccine requirements as effective at increasing vaccine numbers, noting earlier this month that companies and organizations that have instituted mandates have seen an at least 20 percent boost in the vaccination rate.