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This research has not been peer-reviewed. It is a preliminary report that should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice or health-related behaviour, or be reported in news media as established information.
To assess variation in vaccination uptake across occupational groups as a potential explanation for variation in risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
We analysed data from the UK Office of National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey linked to vaccination data from the National Immunisation Management System in England from December 1st 2020 to 11th May 2022. We analysed vaccination uptake and SARS-CoV-2 infection risk by occupational group and assessed whether adjustment for vaccination reduced the variation in risk between occupational groups.
Estimated rates of triple-vaccination were high across all occupational groups (80% or above), but were lowest for food processing (80%), personal care (82%), hospitality (83%), manual occupations (84%), and retail (85%). High rates were observed for individuals working in health (95% for office-based, 92% for those in patient-facing roles) and education (91%) and office-based workers not included in other categories (90%). The impact of adjusting for vaccination when estimating relative risks of infection was generally modest (ratio of hazard ratios reduced from 1.38 to 1.32), but was consistent with the hypothesis that low vaccination rates contribute to elevated risk in some groups. Conversely, estimated relative risk for some occupational groups, such as people working in education, remained high despite high vaccine coverage.
Variation in vaccination coverage might account for a modest proportion of occupational differences in infection risk. Vaccination rates were uniformly very high in this cohort, which may suggest that the participants are not representative of the general population. Accordingly, these results should be considered tentative pending the accumulation of additional evidence.