Employers Are Urging, But Not Mandating, Vaccines

CEOs, in particular, 'can set a positive example by getting the vaccine' and promoting it to employees.

U.S. companies are promoting vaccination to employees, making it more accessible and, in some cases, offering incentives to get inoculated, but very few will require proof of vaccination to return to work, according to a new Willis Towers Watson survey.

“Right now, it’s difficult for any given employer to mandate vaccination, given that supply is still very limited,” says Chantell Sell Reagan, national pharmacy community clinical leader, Willis Towers Watson. “Mandates could potentially cause distrust between employer and employee and strain their longer term relationship.” She noted that employers are more likely to mandate the vaccine for very high-risk employees, and later when people will be required to show proof of vaccination for other activities, such as plane flight or entering stadiums.

The Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey conducted earlier this month found more than eight in 10 employers (84%) agree immunization of the population will allow the country to reactivate the economy, and 80% of employers say it will allow them to move to a new normal in terms of returning to the workplace.

The survey identified some specific actions employers are taking to facilitate employee vaccination, including developing policies and procedures that make it easier to get the vaccine, such as providing paid time off to get it as well as for any additional time if the employee is experiencing any side effects. “Employers can also be sure to give employees scheduling flexibility to get vaccinated, and as vaccine supply ramps up many employers are considering arranging on-site vaccination,” says Reagan.

More than three-quarters of companies said they are either currently helping, or planning to help, employees get the vaccine.

Reagan noted that CEOs who want to encourage further use should employ repetition: that is, keep saying talking about it and reminding employees that they should get the vaccine as soon as they are eligible. “They can also reiterate the safety and effectiveness of all available vaccines, and emphasize that all available vaccines have been shown to be 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death from Covid.”