About 69% of garment workers are willing to be vaccinated if they are eligible to get vaccines, a joint study by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) and Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) has found.
On the other hand, 31% said they do not want to be vaccinated.
Sanem and MFO have been jointly conducting a series of surveys to better understand how the lives of garment workers in Bangladesh have evolved during the Covid-19 crisis, says a press release.
On 24 May, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Faruque Hassan wrote to the health minister, requesting him to allocate vaccines for garment workers on a priority basis by considering them frontline fighters.
Faruque told The Business Standard they had sent the letter as the government had set the vaccination age limit at 40. A copy was also sent to the Prime Minister's Office.
"Most of our workers belong to the 18-40 age group. That is why they should be prioritised," he added.
Of the 31% who were unwilling to be immunised, 48% were afraid of side effects, falling ill, or dying and 23% did not feel the necessity or the benefits of getting vaccinated while 17% said they would rely on their religious faith to stay protected.
Moreover, 3% said they were pregnant or suffering from other health problems or allergies, 2% said they were barred by their husbands from getting vaccines, a little less than 1% said they were waiting for everyone else to be vaccinated, and 7% gave other responses.
Only 2% of the surveyed workers received vaccines prior to the survey. When asked whether they think they are eligible to get vaccinated, 36% said they were eligible, 28% said they were not, and 34% said they do not know.
Of the 36% who said they were eligible, 76% said they want to get vaccinated. Among the 28% who said they were not eligible, 63% said they would get vaccines if they became eligible.
Furthermore, of the 34% who were not sure if they were eligible, 65% said they would get vaccines if they, in fact, were eligible.
As part of the project titled "Garment Worker Diaries," Sanem and MFO have been collecting monthly data since April 2020 on employment, income, food security, wage digitisation, and health of garment workers employed in factories across the five main industrial areas – Chattogram, Dhaka city, Gazipur, Narayanganj, and Savar.
The main objective of the project is to aid informed policymaking and brand initiatives with regular and credible data collection and analysis, which can have a positive impact on the lives of garment workers.
The project is ground-breaking in its approach to improving transparency in global supply chains and in its attempt to help the authorities concerned better understand how Covid-19 has affected apparel workers.
The data disclosed here were collected from a pool of 1,285 workers during surveys conducted over the phone on 23 April this year.