As the COVID-19 vaccines hit the market, what does this mean for employers?
What your business should be doing now
As we wait to gain access to the vaccine, employers need to focus on curbing the spread of COVID-19. The most effective methods for ensuring workplace safety are establishing preventive health measures. As a workplace wellness company, our goal is to help prepare and protect organizations from infectious disease. This article will guide you through COVID-19 vaccine insights and preventative measures that your organization should put into practice.
Currently, to prevent COVID-19 transmission, companies need to utilize symptom screening, contact tracing, surveillance testing, quarantine, and isolation management services. These tools keep human resource administrators in control of outbreaks.
Why vaccine management for employers requires preparation
In order to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, it is important to identify vulnerable communities. There is no guarantee when it comes to the percentage of employees that will receive vaccine immunization in the next year.
Due to concerns about efficacy, safety, and the rushed vaccine development timeline, many employees are hesitant about vaccine adoption (2). According to recent reports, 39% of Americans say they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine if it was available today (3).
Even in organizations with widespread vaccine adoption, vaccinations may not provide protection until a few weeks after inoculation (1). During that time, employees can still get COVID-19. These employees should be taking preventive health measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing, etc.
As we prepare for widespread vaccine distribution, businesses need an effective vaccine management plan. Their plans must account for state and local vaccine distribution plans, vaccine adoption rates, and overall vaccine availability.
COVID-19 workplace safety measures are still needed, vaccines will not immediately eliminate this
It is crucial that organizations understand that the vaccine rollout will not eliminate the need for existing COVID-19 prevention measures. We have limited information on the vaccine’s efficacy and employee adoption numbers are hard to judge at this time. Additionally, we are uncertain if the vaccine will protect individuals from further transmitting COVID-19, while remaining asymptomatic.
Masks and other safety measures will continue to be needed until we reach herd immunity. Herd immunity requires over 70% of people to have the antibodies either from fighting off the disease or receiving the vaccine. This could take 12 months or more depending on how many people have access to and opt out of the vaccine.
An effective vaccine management solution is keystone to a company’s holistic approach
Employers need a dashboard where they can identify and mitigate the risks at hand. Human resource administrators should have a 360 view of the workplace pandemic situation. Effective vaccine management for employers should provide employee vaccine status. Additionally vaccine information should be integrated with existing COVID-19 screening, testing, contact tracing, and case management tools.
Human resource teams and administrators need a streamlined way to manage relevant vaccine information. Vaccine management solutions should look at employees vaccine status, vaccine types, and date(s) administered. Employers should utilize a custom screening solution that can accommodate the rollout and adoption of different vaccines amongst their workforce.
Businesses should maintain a vaccine management plan, even after the vaccine is widespread and available
Why? A key lesson that businesses learned this year is that disease control and prevention is crucial.
According to the CDC “Every year influenza, or “flu,” affects employers and businesses. A 2018 study found that the average economic burden of the flu in the U.S. is $11.2 billion (4). This calculation includes costs related to productivity loss (4). For employers, there are substantial benefits to encouraging vaccination, such as reducing employee absence and improving productivity (5).
COVID-19 is likely to present a significant economic burden as we work towards widespread vaccination efforts. As with the flu vaccine, employers will face difficulty gaining adoption. However, enacting a strong vaccination program has notable financial benefits.
Overall preventive health measures deserve a high priority in workplace safety programs. Businesses should have a long-term employee health and wellness plan built into their existing infrastructure.
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