To help employers increase the number of fully vaccinated employees, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its workplace vaccination program recommendations as follows:
Assess COVID-19 Vaccination Option for Employees
There are two primary options for vaccinating employees: onsite at work or offsite in the community. Employers that have a large workforce with predictable schedules, enough space to accommodate a temporary vaccination clinic, or the ability to enroll in a jurisdictional immunization program as a vaccination provider should consider a workplace vaccination program. The CDC provides the following tips for conducting onsite vaccination programs:
- Employers should contact the health department in their area for guidance on implementing a workplace vaccination program.
- Employers should consider engaging a community vaccination provider with trained staff to administer vaccines, bill insurance for administration fees, and report any vaccine administration data to immunization registries.
- The vaccination program should be available during work hours at no charge.
- All workers, including contractors, should be provided with access to the vaccination program.
- Refer to the National Institute of Health’s Key Elements of a Model Workplace Safety and Health COVID-19 Vaccination Program.
Employers with smaller workforces with variable schedules or without the resources to hold a vaccination clinic should consider offsite vaccination options for their employees. The CDC recommends these steps to encourage vaccination:
- Permit employees to receive vaccines offsite during work hours or offer paid leave.
- Help provide transportation to offsite vaccination clinics by paying for ridesharing services or taxis.
- Educate employees about when they are eligible to be vaccinated, how to book appointments, and about any necessary screening requirements they may need to meet.
- Ensure that employees are aware that vaccinations are provided free of charge.
Build Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccines
To build trust in the necessity and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, employers are urged to:
- Encourage company leadership to champion vaccination, ensuring that these leaders reflect workplace diversity.
- Communicate clearly and transparently to the entire workforce about vaccination.
- Develop a vaccination communications plan that emphasizes the benefits of getting the vaccine to protect employees, their families, and co-workers. The CDC has provided communication resources in a number of languages.
- Provide regular updates on the benefits, safety, potential side effects, and the effectiveness of vaccination.
- Provide visible support to employees who have been vaccinated by handing out stickers and encouraging them to post on social media.
Find Out When Employees Can be Vaccinated
Each state makes its own determinations on who should get vaccinated first, based on CDC recommendations. Some states have opened up vaccination programs for all residents over the age of 16, while others have maintained a phased vaccination protocol. Determine the time frames that employees can be vaccinated by checking with your state, city, or county health department websites.
Employer Best Practices
- The CDC urges employers to offer employees who experience any side effects from vaccinations with flexible, non-punitive sick leave options such as paid sick leave.
- In general, employers are permitted to require that their employees be vaccinated if no disability or religious exemption applies.
- Fully or self-insured employer-sponsored group health plans are required to pay the full cost of the vaccine for covered employees at no cost to the employee. Be sure employees are aware of this benefit.
- Continue to follow the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19.
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