August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This annual observance highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life.
It is also the month that has shown the greatest percentage increase in COVID-19 infections since the peak of the pandemic. This is mainly due to the many variants that have spun off, but primarily the Delta variant and its dangerously high viral load.
Due to the high spread, many companies and organizations are debating if they should require vaccines as part of their reopening responsibly plan.
What do the governing bodies say?
This is where things can get tricky. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can require employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Federal EEO laws do not prevent it, so long as employers comply with reasonable accommodation provisions.
So, federally it is allowed.
State Laws are more Complicated
However, states have had a wide range of reactions. Some cities are now making businesses require employees and customers to prove vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test prior to entering their establishment. Other states are fighting to eliminate mask and vaccine requirements altogether.
Overall, businesses have the right to choose what is important to them and the courts are supporting that decision.
In Florida, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams sided with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. and invalidated Florida’s rule that prevented businesses from requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination from their customers.
In Texas, U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes ruled in favor of the Houston Methodist hospital network’s decision mandating vaccinations for all employees unless they had a valid medical excuse and ruled that the health system’s requirement did not violate state or federal law or public policy.
In fact, each day more and more companies are mandating vaccines for their employees. Disney, Tyson Foods, Genesis HealthCare, United Airlines, Microsoft, Mayo Clinic, Google, Salesforce, Facebook and over 600 public and private colleges require proof of vaccination for all employees (and students) coming to their facilities.
What is best for you and your employees?
That is a difficult question that you will need to answer based on the needs of the business and the demographic of your employees.
At this time, statistics are showing that as the infection rates for COVID-19 are rising rapidly, and it’s the unvaccinated that are the most at risk. In fact, over 97% of hospitalizations and 99% of deaths are occurring among the unvaccinated.
However, it is the risk of exposure and infecting others that is increasing the friction between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
Nearly 4 in 10 US workers say they may quit if their employer doesn’t mandate vaccines and 70% of employees want more stringent vaccine policies before they return to the office.
Employers should also keep in mind that some underrepresented groups of employees can face greater barriers to receiving the COVID-19 vaccination and could be negatively impacted by vaccination requirements.
As companies, organizations and governments bring workers back to offices – they will have to navigate a nationwide labor shortage – as well as design in-office vaccine policies for both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated – in order to balance the future path for the company and the health and safety of employees.
Flagship's customizable approach to your facility's needs will help you incorporate solutions that will help you reopen responsibly and protect the health and safety of your occupants during operations.
We have experienced and professional teams ready to help your business with health and safety preparation, maintenance and facilities technology, as well as an assortment of other integrated facilities management solutions to meet your needs.