Employers ramp up vaccination efforts

Nearly half in U.S. planning to provide on-site delivery of inoculation

Employers ramp up vaccination efforts
People line up for a COVID-19 vaccine at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of employers in the U.S. are obtaining vaccines to administer to employees or facilitating access to vaccines through a third party, according to a report from Willis Towers Watson ─ and another 55 per cent are planning or considering doing so.

Among them, 55 per cent are arranging for vaccines to be administered at retail pharmacies, while 45 per cent plan to create a centre or onsite/near-site facility to deliver vaccines.

“Employers understand that by taking an active part in supporting the vaccination of employees, they can play a crucial role in ending the pandemic,” says Jeff Levin-Scherz, population health leader at Willis Towers Watson. “A common strategy for employers is to make vaccines an easy choice for employees by first helping convince them to get the vaccine and then making it easy for them to do so.”

Recently, Saskatchewan amended its OHS regulations to give employees paid time off to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Incentives offered

Also, two in 10 respondents are offering incentives to get vaccinated and 29 per cent are planning or considering doing so, finds the survey of 446 employers from Feb. 23 to March 12.

Among those that are giving incentives, 39 per cent are providing extra leave or vacation time to get vaccinated and 27 per cent are providing additional leave to employees who have negative reactions or get sick from the vaccine. One in 10 are offering cash or other financial incentives.

Manulife is one company that’s rewarding people for taking COVID-19 vaccine shots.

“Employers are eager to improve vaccination rates, contain any further spread of the virus and bring employees back to work,” said Chantell Sell Reagan, national pharmacy community clinical leader at Willis Towers Watson. “Despite the optimism about recovery, health care will remain a top priority for employers as they seek to strengthen wellbeing programs, reemphasize preventive and mental health services, and implement new plan designs that meet the needs of a post-pandemic workforce.”

Proof of vaccine?

Despite all these efforts, just 10 per cent of employers are planning or considering requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) are planning or considering requiring employees to get vaccinated for them to return to the worksite.

More than half (55 per cent) expect their workforces to be vaccinated by the end of 2021. However, only 30 per cent expect the entire U.S. working population to be vaccinated this year.

Canadian HR Reporter spoke with a legal expert recently to find out if employees can be mandated to take the vaccine.

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