Corporations encourage vaccination of employees but remain short of mandates

Many of the companies with the largest number of employees say they will do almost everything to encourage their employees to get vaccinated. But a survey of some of them found that no one would be inclined to send blows as a condition for holding a job.

Almost all 15 companies surveyed – among the largest and most influential Fortune 500 Company – have strong pro-vaccine messages from their corporate leadership, stressing that the blows can help protect individuals and end the pandemic.

CVS Health, which administers COVID vaccines as part of the federal pharmacy distribution program, says it strongly encourages coups for its employees. ”from a public health point of viewBut he will not send them. Starbucks also encourages shocks. “to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19“, But don’t even send them.

Some companies give employees free time to get hit or stay home if they have side effects, a trend that could increase now that the Biden administration has announced tax credits for smaller companies to offer up to 80 hours of paid sick leave until September 30th.

Target gives employees per hour up to four additional hours of pay if they receive the vaccine (two hours per shot). Amazon offers $ 40 at a time for workers per hour, and Kroger gives employees $ 100 if they receive both doses.

“Vaccination, in our opinion, is absolutely the only way out of the pandemic, both for us to return to normal and for the country,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, pulmonologist and chief medical officer for the COVID response. of Amazon.

Amazon, like other large retailers, has experienced COVID outbreaks in its workplaces throughout the pandemic. In October he revealed that nearly 20,000 out of the company’s 1.37 million front-line employees had either tested positive or were presumed to have been infected with the COVID virus.

The company, which includes the Whole Foods Market, distribution warehouses and data centers, has organized vaccination events for employees such as delivery workers in at least 29 states, and is part of the giant companies who do their best to bring harm to their workers. But for now, Amazon doesn’t make vaccines mandatory.

Target, the only company of those interviewed that offers financial incentives, extra paid time and vaccinations in the workplace, has no plans to send vaccinations.

However, the pandemic has led to a rapidly evolving flow of policies and recommendations from federal health authorities, and some companies, even in declining mandates for now, have indicated that it could change.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, and I can’t predict the future, but that’s what our message is now,” said Carrie Altieri, vice president of communications for COVID strategy at IBM.

Legal and public health experts have warned against any mandate before the Food and Drug Administration fully licenses the blows, which could happen this summer. The vaccines have been authorized by the FDA for “emergency use” and as such employers may not be required to do so, some legal experts have argued. Even post-graduation, however, could spark a reaction if they need employees to get them, said Joanne Rosen, a senior professor and associate director at the Center for Law and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

A mandate could anger some employees while marginally increasing the number of vaccinations, say Rosen and others. It would be more prudent to look at “carrots instead of sticks,” he said.

“If the purpose of a mandate is to ensure that the largest number of people are vaccinated, a reaction to a mandate, in which you have more reluctance or opposition to vaccination, is the opposite of the result you want to achieve,” he said. . .

After licensing, employers will face fewer legal challenges for vaccination mandates, especially if staff members work with medically vulnerable or at-risk patients, such as in nursing homes or in prison. Aside from these special sectors, employee mandates are not necessarily a good idea from a public health perspective, said Michelle Mello, professor of law and medicine at Stanford University.

Opponents of the vaccine’s hard line would not be affected by an occupation-based vaccination requirement, and could risk alienating some in the “wait and see” contingent, he said.

Look up 6% of Americans even not vaccinated against COVID said they would accept a shot if necessary, according to an April poll by KFF. An additional 15% who had not had a stroke expressed a “wait and see” attitude toward vaccination. And 13% have flatly refused to be vaccinated.

The gains in the small group that say they would have a hit if needed would not be worth the hassle that a mandate could provoke, Mello said.

The mandates risk further politicization of COVID vaccines in American society, said Brian Castrucci, CEO of the Beaumont Foundation, a charity focused on public health.

Poll conducted by de Beaumont and Frank Luntz polling the GOP April 15 found that 36% of those who voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election agreed that it was important for American companies to encourage and encourage vaccines, as opposed to 54% of voters in the United States. Joe Biden. The survey also found that 41% of Trump voters believe companies should not be involved in COVID vaccinations, compared to 18% of Biden voters.

“Mandatory vaccination will touch every button that is on the political right,” Castrucci said.

Once public health benefits and strategies become cleaned up, local governments can choose only to remove them from the table as an option. A new one Florida law prohibits companies and government entities from requiring proof of a COVID vaccination. The law is based on Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order, which he signed on April 2nd.

“Vaccine testing can be a useful tool,” Castrucci said. “It’s no longer available in Florida.”

Despite the potential reaction, the financial case for COVID vaccinations is unclear, said Aaron Yelowitz, a professor of economics at the University of Kentucky, how effective the blows are.

Taking into account the costs of a shortened life, mental health conditions and lost income due to illness and arrests, the COVID pandemic has cost the average American family nearly four $ 200,000, according to an analysis by researcher at Harvard.

Some of these costs may be borne by businesses in the form of lost productivity and higher health insurance prices, Yelowitz said. The financial incentives for the strikes are therefore an extremely tempting exchange, he said.

Incentives for vaccination – such as a $ 25 gift card or a free Uber trip – are “definitely worth it in terms of savings,” Yelowitz said. In the same vein, he also called on Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine 5 million vaccine lotteries “Innovative and imaginative.”

But for now, employers are sensitive to what they can and cannot ask workers, said Lindsey Leininger, clinical professor of business administration at Dartmouth College. The tight labor market and ongoing negotiations, in progress, on when and how to get employees back to the office make some companies wary of demanding too much of their workers, said Leininger, who advises smaller companies on COVID vaccines and other issues.

“All the companies I work with have a general preference for carrot versus the type of approach,” he said. “How many things do you want to send your employees now?”

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service. It is an independent publishing program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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