Now that Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern COVID-19 vaccines have received FDA approval for emergency use, many employers are anxious to get their workforce vaccinated. Some employers may want to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all workers. While this approach can be effective, it can also have potential disadvantages.
Some workers will object to the vaccine
Not everyone is happy about the vaccine. Although some people see it as the best tool we have in the fight against the pandemic and can not wait to be vaccinated, others do not want to be vaccinated for various reasons.
- Some workers may say that they cannot be vaccinated for reasons related to disability and legally protected by the ADA.
- Other workers may say that they cannot be vaccinated for reasons related to their religion and legally protected by Title VII.
- Other workers may simply not want to be vaccinated. For example, they may distrust vaccinations or see them as unnatural. Although this type of objection may not be protected by law, it can still lead to conflict and moral issues. Some workers may even feel strong enough to quit rather than be vaccinated.
Vaccines can be difficult to obtain
Right now, policies that prescribe vaccines can be complicated by the simple fact that vaccines are still difficult to obtain in many places.
The CDC has recommended phases of vaccine distribution. According to these guidelines, key frontline workers are eligible for the Phase 1b vaccine, and other key workers are eligible for the Phase 1c vaccine.
However, states are responsible for the actual rollout of the vaccine, so when individuals qualify for the vaccine depends on the rules used by each state. Employers should contact their state health department to determine when their workers can be vaccinated and where the vaccinations can be obtained.
Consider your options
Mandating the vaccine is an option, but it is not the only option.
- Educate your employees about the vaccine. This is important regardless of whether you plan to give the vaccine. The CDC provides excellent resources that employers can use to educate their employees about the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Make it easy for your workers to get the vaccine. If possible in your condition, see if you can create a vaccination clinic at the workplace. If this is not possible, help your workers decide where they can be vaccinated.
- If you decide to mandate the vaccine, review the ADA and Title VII requirements. The EEOC has added a section on ADA and Title VII issues related to the vaccine to its COVID-19 page.
- If employees cannot be vaccinated or refuse to be vaccinated, consider what alternative arrangements are possible, if any. For example, can workers perform their tasks remotely?
As always, BNC is your partner for risk management. If you have any questions about your insurance programs, do not hesitate to contact us .