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NSC calls on nation’s employers to lead COVID-19 vaccine promotion efforts

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Photo: Barry Bottino

Itasca, IL — The best path to safer, more collaborative and more productive work environments in the United States involves employers guiding COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

That was the message to business leaders from National Safety Council President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin during a virtual town hall hosted by the council and Health Action Alliance on May 11. Martin called on leaders to take action and offered strategies for expanding vaccinations, as highlighted in the newly released Recommended Actions for Vaccination Leadership and Expanded Operations document developed by the SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns task force.

Led by NSC and made up of nonprofit organizations, businesses, medical professionals, government agencies and trade associations, SAFER focuses on “developing industry- and risk-specific resources and recommendations for employers.”

Martin told attendees, “Vaccines are the key that will reduce restrictions in our daily lives and in our workplaces. We know the most important action right now an employer can take to keep workers safe is to help lead the U.S. vaccination efforts.”

Among the task force’s recommendations: Provide paid time off to employees to receive vaccines and for recovery time, offer scheduling and transportation support, coordinate onsite vaccination clinics, and promote peer-to-peer communication among vaccinated and unvaccinated workers.

“The cost of an employee contracting COVID-19 is much, much greater than offering a bit of time off to go get the vaccine,” Martin said.

Helping with vaccine scheduling and transportation or hosting a vaccination clinic can eliminate barriers that some workers have faced during the pandemic.

“American workers have endured tremendous burdens on their time as they’ve juggled household, parenting and employment obligations over the past 14 months,” Martin said. “We believe that employers who offer coordinated support in this area could significantly boost vaccination rates among their worker population.”

Representatives from multiple companies participated in the town hall to share their experiences.

 

Crystal Barnes, wellness engagement manager at United Airlines, discussed how the company helped keep essential workers safe as federal guidance changed rapidly throughout the pandemic. While encouraging vaccines via health clinics at United hub locations around the country, the company launched its “My Shot, My Story” campaign in which employees share with peers their reasons for getting vaccinated.

“We want our employees to be safe,” Barnes said. “And when employees are safe, we can also extend that to our customers. We know people want to fly, and they want to do it safely.”

NSC provided attendees with the SAFER framework document, which includes recently updated guidance on physical, medical, employment, legal and human resources considerations related to the pandemic.

According to Martin, vaccinating workers will help employers ensure safer workplaces. “What’s the ultimate goal for all of us?” she asked. “It’s to keep our employees safe as we bring our workplaces back to a new situation.”

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