The COVID-19 vaccine has been available to select groups for weeks. As of January 25, 2021, 22.73 million single doses have been administered in the United States according to Edouard Mathieu at Our World in Data. As the vaccine becomes more widely available and returning to work in person becomes more viable, employers and employees alike might begin to consider how the COVID-19 vaccine will play into any plans to return to work. Companies can utilize an emergency communication system to spread information about a company’s policy regarding the vaccine, help employees remember to be vaccinated, and determine how employees feel about returning to work.
Can an Employer Require the Vaccination?
A prevalent question for employees right now is if their company will require the vaccine. Truthfully, requiring that workers receive the COVID-19 vaccination would be complicated. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), if employers do require the vaccine, they’ll have to be very careful about any pre-screening questions they ask employees because “[p]re-vaccination medical screening questions are likely to elicit information about a disability.” Additionally, employers would have to carefully consider how they would accept proof of vaccination so they would not “elicit information about a disability.” Otherwise, employers could end up requiring information related to a disability with questions inquiring “why an individual did not receive a vaccination” or by unintentionally receiving “medical information” along with proof of vaccination if the employee were to receive the vaccine from a third party.
Any pre-screening questions or proof of vaccination that did elicit disability-related information would need to meet the “job-related and consistent with business necessity” requirement. According to the EEOC, “To meet this standard, an employer would need to have a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that an employee who does not answer the questions and, therefore, does not receive a vaccination, will pose a direct threat to the health or safety of her or himself or others.” In addition to considering the job-related and consistent with business necessity requirement when asking pre-screening questions or requesting proof of vaccination, the EEOC notes that employers who require the vaccine would also need to consider how they will accommodate employees with a disability that prevents them from receiving the vaccine and employees whose religious belief may prevent them from receiving the vaccine.
Even if an employer does not wish to require that employees receive a vaccine, they could encourage employees to receive the vaccine using an emergency communication system. The following sections highlight how employers can use communication software to promote the COVID-19 vaccine and move forward with returning to a traditional work environment.
Using Alerts to Promote the Vaccine
To keep employees informed on the COVID-19 vaccine, employers will need to send information about the vaccine and their company’s policy on the vaccine to multiple individuals. To do this, they will need software that enables two-way communication so they can send and receive messages. Content for messages could include updates on the vaccine or any information about the company’s stance on receiving the vaccine before returning to work. The communication software will also need to enable attachments so message senders can attach any files on their device about the vaccine to the message.
Unlike most vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses. According to the CDC, the timeframe between doses can vary from 21-28 days depending on the type of vaccination. To help employees remember to receive both doses, employers could send alerts to employees reminding them of when the vaccine is available. Then, employers could wait about three weeks and send out another alert to remind employees that, if they have already received the first dose of the vaccine, they will need to return for the second dose soon.
Using Polls to Request Employee Opinion
If employers do not wish to require the COVID-19 vaccine but still hope to encourage employees to receive the vaccine, they could use their communication system’s polling feature to disperse information about the vaccine. For example, employers could use polls to see what (if any) information employees might like to receive about the vaccine or to gain a greater understanding of employees’ questions about the vaccine.
Once the vaccine has become more widely available to the public, employers and employees might feel more secure in returning to the office. As part of this process, employers might wish to send a poll to employees regarding their preferences for returning to work. In a poll, employers could ask if employees are comfortable with returning to work and possibly measure how many employees would like precautions in place before returning to work.
Spread the Word with an Emergency Communication System
COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented changes in the workforce. Companies have moved to remote work, adopted new sanitation policies to protect workers and customers, and even implemented temperature checks to avoid spreading the virus. As we move toward vaccinating the population, companies can contribute to informing employees about the vaccine.
Emergency communication software enables you to remind employees to receive a vaccination, relays information about company policy related to the vaccine, and collects employee opinion about returning to the office. To find out more about how Konexus’ emergency communication system can help you and your employees move forward with the vaccination process and returning to work, visit konexus.com.