Having listened to and participated in Part One and Part Two of our two very well-attended webinars on the COVID-19 vaccine, I wanted to give you my thoughts. I must emphasize that I am not a lawyer or a medical professional so when formulating your action plan, I think it is critical that you speak with legal counsel and medical professionals to craft a plan for yourself or your company.
Viewpoints from Craig Hasday
First, at this point federal and state authorities are in complete control of vaccine distribution.
While it is expected that (at the time supply catches up to demand) on-site vaccine administration may become available to any employer, at the current time, it is only available to medical providers, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities – and only in some states. But at some point, like flu shots, you will likely be able to arrange COVID-19 vaccines at your location. It is important to stay close to health departments in the states in which you operate to understand specifically how vaccine supply will be released to your employees. It is extremely likely that certain groups of your employees will be eligible for the vaccine before others and that one family member will be eligible before other members in the same household.
Second, under current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines – even after a vaccine is received – you may still be susceptible to the disease and be an asymptomatic carrier.
So, it is important to follow mask, social distancing and handwashing guidelines until advised otherwise. This might be until a substantial number of Americans are vaccinated and the disease spread abates significantly.
Third, because of accommodations and other regulatory concerns, it may be difficult for an employer to mandate their employees to be vaccinated unless vaccination is critical to job performance.
However, most employers are likely to communicate the benefits of vaccination and encourage their workforce to become vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. And it is clear that a solid communication campaign will be vital.
Fourth, I heard loud and clear that while all of the vaccines are less than 100% effective at preventing the disease, they have all shown to be virtually 100% effective at preventing death or serious medical outcomes associated with COVID-19.
So, I for one will be in line the second I am eligible. That is my biggest fear about this disease – dying or getting severely ill – and the thought of what many have endured, death in isolation from friends and families; that is unthinkable.
Fifth, there are many different views regarding this disease and the vaccine, and we have to respect everyone’s personal opinion.
However, the decision of whether or not to vaccinate impacts not just you. It impacts your family, your friends, your coworkers, your customers and anyone with whom you come in contact.
While there is no easy pathway to eliminating COVID-19 from our lives, one day it will be something we remember but talk about in the past, similar to smallpox, measles and the Spanish flu. Hopefully, that day is soon.
See materials from our recent webinar series | What Employers Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccinations: Part One & Part Two
Check out more of our EPIC Resources:
Visit the EPIC coronavirus update center for COVID-19 information
Sign up for EPIC Newsletters in one convenient location
See results from our In It Together pulse surveys on our COVID-19 strategic collaboration and idea-sharing forum
EPIC offers these opinions for general information only. EPIC does not intend this material to be, nor may any person receiving this information construe or rely on this material as, tax or legal advice. The matters addressed in this article and any related discussions or correspondence should be reviewed and discussed with legal counsel prior to acting or relying on these materials.
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President, National Employee Benefits Practice