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4 Steps to Building a COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy

With COVID-19 surges continuing in many parts of the world and the vaccine supply limited, it is difficult to maintain a vision of the end of this pandemic. That said, vaccines remain the most reliable and widest path out of the current crisis. In most countries, the public sector is predominantly handling the initial mass vaccination rollout; however, the private sector is playing an important role in encouraging vaccinations and, importantly, continued COVID-19 protections. To have a positive impact and manage ongoing risk, employers needa vaccination strategythat anticipates and plans for the business issues that are likely to arise. Many have already started. In aCOVID-19 Vaccine SurveyMercer conducted in January 2021,39% of respondents had already created a steering committeeto consider the labor relations and occupational safety and health concerns relating to the vaccine, andanother 29% were in planning stages or considering the adoption of such committees.

To build a strong vaccination strategy, follow the four “A”s: access, affordability, advocacy and accommodation.

Have you considered …

  • Giving paid time off for vaccinations?53% of survey respondents will provide paid time off.
  • Paid sick leave to recover from any side effects?33% of respondents are providing additional sick days to recover from side effects.
  • 安排工地疫苗接种?24% of survey respondents will make worksite vaccinations available.
  • Surveying employees on their willingness to be vaccinated?25%的受访者正在考虑员工苏尔vey, while 27% have surveyed employees already.
  • 授权疫苗?在持续的Mercer调查中只有5%的调查受访者已经授权疫苗疫苗;只有15%正在考虑它。

Access

Unfortunately, in the near-term, in most parts of the world not everyone who wants a vaccine may be able to get one. Either because of limited supplies in a country or locality or because of falling lower on government-mandated priority lists. As vaccines become available, other factors such as long wait times, traffic and unfamiliar distribution sites may create obstacles for many workers that may be mitigated by providing vaccinations at worksites. Employers may find that providing convenient access to vaccination services, such as through onsite vaccination clinics, is a good investment. In fact,36% of survey respondents in the U.S. are taking active steps to support vaccine delivery, and an additional 20% are considering it.

Affordability

Though rare, where the vaccine is not covered by health insurance or through the public health system, employers may need to step in to pay for it.A fifth of employers (20%) plan to cover the costs for employees not enrolled in the company health plan. In the U.S., for example, coronavirus relief enacted in March 2020requires group health plans and issuers to cover COVID-19 vaccineswithout cost sharing, such as a co-payment. Health and benefit plans may need to evolve to protect employees and their families. Another incentive at an employer’s discretion is assuring employees have ample time to get the vaccine and do not lose wages in order to do so.

For now, governments are taking the primary role in vaccine deployment, butcompanies will need to preparethink strategically about the COVID-related implications for business operations.

Advocating

This is perhaps the greatest impact employers can have as they are a trusted source of health information. At least61% of employees trust their employers to look after their well-being, according toMercer’s 2020-2021 Global Talent Trends. Using reliable information and leadership endorsements, employers have a strong role inencouraging employees to get vaccinated. Athird of Mercer’s January COVID-19 vaccine survey respondents already have communication plans in place, and another half (54%) are developing one. In those communications,74% plan to encourage employees to get vaccinated and 42% will strongly encourage it.

Accommodation

无论是医疗还是个人原因,并非所有员工都希望疫苗 - 对雇主的重要关注。超过一半(56%)的受访者are concerned about workplace safety. Local laws will dictate how businesses accommodate these choices. In the U.S., for example, people with disabilities and religious beliefs have protected statuses and need to be provided special consideration. Beyond accommodating those who can’t or won’t get vaccinated, employers will have to accommodate the rest of the employee population, ensuring everyone’s safety —41% are concerned about how to manage unvaccinated and vaccinated employee populationsworking side-by-side.

For now, governments are taking the primary role in vaccine deployment, butcompanies will need to preparethink strategically about the implications for business operations and business travel while COVID-19 remains a threat. Employers are already implementing plans and thinking hard about how to boost vaccine confidence, support vaccination efforts and implement contingency plans for the ongoing risks associated with the pandemic.

Data sources: Mercer’s Global Pandemic Survey Series: Survey #1 (launched January 2021, with 1,304 employer respondents globally) and Survey #2 (launched April 2021, with 488 respondents globally and 344 U.S. respondents).

Dr. Lorna Friedman

Global Health Leader, Multinational at Mercer

Dr. Lorna Friedman is the global health leader, multinational, at Mercer.

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