The potential contribution of vaccination uptake to occupational differences in risk of SARS-CoV-2: Analysis of the ONS COVID-19 Infection Survey

This research has not been peer-reviewed.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.

Author list



  1. Centre for Biostatistics, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, School of Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  3. Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
  4. Lancaster Medical School, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, UK
  5. Faculty of Public Health, Environment and Society, LSHTM, London, UK
  6. Department of Medical Statistics, LSHTM, London, UK
  7. Thomas Ashton Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK


Jack Wilkinson1*, Evangelia Demou2, Mark Cherrie3, Rhiannon Edge4, Matthew Gittins1, S Vittal Katikireddi3, Theocharis Kromydas3, William Mueller2, Neil Pearce5,6, Martie van Tongeren7 and Sarah Rhodes1

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