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‘Vaccine requirements work’: Employers can lead the way to community immunity, NSC report shows

Photo: JJ Gouin/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — Employers can achieve “a level of community immunity” from COVID-19 by requiring their entire workforce to be vaccinated, according to a new report from the National Safety Council.

A Year in Review, and What’s Next: COVID-19 Employer Approaches and Worker Experiences – released Sept. 29 – is part of the nonprofit organization’s SAFER: Safe Actions For Employee Returns initiative, aimed at developing industry- and risk-specific resources and recommendations for employers. The report includes data based on surveys and interviews, conducted between June and August, of 300 U.S.-based employers and nearly 3,800 individuals.

Findings show that employers who instituted a vaccine requirement for their employees bolstered worker vaccination rates by 35%. “Thus, workplaces can achieve a level of community immunity if employers consistently and unanimously apply vaccine requirements to their entire workforce,” the report states.

NSC notes that the highly transmissible delta variant, currently representing more than 99% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States, emphasizes the importance of workers being fully vaccinated. Yet, 13%-15% of Americans who have received one vaccine dose indicated they don’t plan to return for a second dose and become fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, 15% of fully vaccinated respondents said they’re either unsure about or don’t plan to receive a booster shot when they become eligible.

The report provides recommendations for employers to help keep workers safe amid the pandemic:

  • Implement vaccination requirements for in-person work and require frequent testing of individuals who can’t or won’t get vaccinated.
  • Reduce barriers to access by providing paid time off, transportation to vaccination sites (or host onsite vaccination events at your workplace), multilingual vaccine information and transparent communication about vaccine guidance.
  • Encourage discussions on COVID-19 issues such as workplace safety guidelines, boosters and variants.
  • Reduce in-person work, when possible, to reduce exposure opportunities.

“The verdict is in: Employer vaccine requirements work,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said. “NSC is focused on empowering businesses of all sizes to implement COVID-19 vaccination requirements in a way that supports vaccine equity, reduces health disparities and, ultimately, advances the nation’s progress on living safely with this virus.”

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