Employers and the COVID-19 Vaccine: Educate While We Wait

Posted by: Populytics
Date: March 19, 2021

There is relief at the news of approval for three COVID-19 vaccines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, relief has turned to frustration for many as distribution has been slower than desired. That can mean added levels of stress among your workforce as employees spend hours – sometimes days and weeks – trying to locate and obtain open vaccine appointments. Employers can for reach out to their EAP for mental health services. They can also ease the situation by focusing on advocacy and support in anticipation of improved vaccine availability.

Be your employees’ information source

Make sure your employees have the best information on how to get vaccinated when supplies allow. In the Lehigh Valley region, that’s through Lehigh Valley Health Network’s portal, MyLVHN. LVHN has led the vaccination effort locally and is in regular contact with the state of Pennsylvania regarding vaccine dissemination.

Ensure your employees are aware of the Essential Worker Questionnaire on the MyLVHN portal. Filling out the questionnaire will allow them to be added to the digital queue in alignment with the PA state phasing system and vaccine supply. LVHN subsidiary Populytics, which is the central resource for employer-directed services, is assisting with the addition of employers to the Essential Worker Questionnaire. See below for more information.*

Be your employees’ vaccination advocate

The most important message you can convey is based on scientific fact: “Getting 70% or more of the public vaccinated or recovered from the COVID-19 virus is critical to containing the disease and creating herd immunity.”** Employers can play a key role in reaching this goal. You can connect with employees to understand their beliefs about vaccination, and share educational information about the goals, safety, and benefits.

Companies are approaching this issue from various angles, as reported by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), from financial incentives for immunization to a mandatory vaccine policy. Regardless of approach, employers can demonstrate the company’s commitment and belief in the vaccine by communicating regional updates and sharing positive messaging.

Evaluate your own workforce policies

As more employees schedule immunizations, employers will face questions such as, “Should we provide paid time off to receive the vaccine?” “Should we allow time off to recuperate from side effects?” And, as in the article cited above, “Should we incentivize employees to get vaccinated?” You’ll want to create a plan to answer these questions and ready your staff for this eventuality.

Speaking with experts who have already worked with companies on COVID-19 workplace policy may be helpful. You’ll also want to consider these questions from both legal and employee rights’ perspectives, and can find guidance from the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC).

Prep for onsite COVID-19 vaccinations – possibly coming later

As ongoing messaging has indicated, the vaccine effort through LVHN and other health providers in Pennsylvania is driven by the state and its available supply of vaccine. These providers are aware of the need and benefit to large employers of administering the COVID-19 vaccine at onsite events. However, at this phase of the rollout, and with vaccine distribution at inconsistent levels, the only plans for public events (such as LVHN’s mass vaccination at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pa.). Corporate-specific events are a possibility for the future.

While waiting is always the hardest part of any process, employers can use this time wisely to prepare and support their workforces in the vaccine effort. We all want the same outcome. Doing our part now can help make the next few months a smooth transition in controlling the pandemic and experiencing better days ahead.

Use these resources for more information

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*Employers can e-mail us at [email protected] for evaluation for inclusion in the MyLVHN Essential Worker Questionnaire. Please provide the following:

  • Organization Name
  • Organization Address
  • Number of Employees
  • Industry
  • Contact Name and Phone Number

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