COVID-19 and Vaccines
This pandemic has upended our lives impacting every aspect from visiting friends and relatives, vacations, schooling, child and elder care, as well as how and where we work. We have to worry about physically distancing from others, wearing masks, washing our hands and whether we might catch COVID-19. Effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have been developed in record times, and with two vaccines currently approved and a third potentially by the time this newsletter goes to press.
Vaccines will be a key pathway to returning us to the life we once had. However, there are still many challenges ahead with millions of people to vaccinate, not just once but twice for the two current vaccines. This is a significant manufacturing, distribution and vaccination delivery challenge which will take time, so people are going to need to be patient. Besides the logistical hurdles there will also be vaccine hesitancy issues due to individual concerns over safety, personal beliefs and social media misinformation.
Employers can play a significant role in supporting the countrywide effort to vaccinate as many people as possible. Having a vaccine strategy for employees needs to be one of the highest priorities for employers. As one of the few remaining institutions in which Americans still have some degree of confidence and trust, employers have an important role to play in disseminating accurate education and information about vaccines, and engaging employees and their families in obtaining them. Ways that employers can support vaccine deployment include:
The tailored messaging elements of a COVID-19 vaccine support program would include:
- Education on vaccines including how the vaccine works and the advantages of being vaccinated.
- Honest, open and truthful information about vaccine side effects, putting these into perspective.
- As several vaccines require a second dose, a challenge we know from other 2 dose vaccines, then support with scheduling and reminders of second dose appointment, time off or transportation to get a second dose will be valuable.
- Providing reliable information on when, where and how to sign up for vaccination.
- Some employees will be in priority groups because of their role, age or medical history – ensuring that these employees know when and how to get vaccinated.
- While it is uncertain if non-healthcare system employers will be able to provide on-site vaccination centers this may be feasible when more vaccines are available and the initial priority groups have been vaccinated.
- When vaccines are available, have leadership let people know they have been vaccinated and why they were vaccinated.