More employers should mandate COVID-19 vaccines for workers

for the health of their business

Last Updated: July 22, 2021 at 10:07 a.m. ETFirst Published: July 21, 2021 at 8:14 a.m. ETBy 

Karen Mulligan and Jeffrey E. Harris

The trend is already unmistakable, led by higher education and healthcare providers

Although two-thirds of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccination rates are leveling off and risks of new outbreaks are rising, driven by the hypercontagious delta variant. For employers that is an intolerable situation. If they want to operate reliable in-person workplaces and attract customers, they will have to embrace a solution that government has so far shied away from: vaccine mandates.

The trend is already unmistakable, led by higher education and healthcare providers. More than 580 campuses nationwide will require vaccinations this fall for most students and employees, including the huge University of California system, which has ordered its 280,000 students and 227,000 faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus. 

Healthcare systems, which have an overwhelming interest in instilling confidence and protecting patients, are following suit. Penn Medicine, the largest employer in Philadelphia, RWJ Barnabas healthcare system in New Jersey, and New York-Presbyterian hospital system with 48,000 employees, have all recently instituted mandates.

Houston Methodist hospital threatened employees who failed to get vaccinated with suspension and termination. While some employees protested and even filed an unsuccessful lawsuit, the mandate has proven highly effective. Out of more than 25,000 employees, 97% have been fully vaccinated, and 2% received a medical or religious exemption. Less than 1% (153 employees) resigned or were terminated in June.

Read: Amazon will stop testing its workers for COVID-19 at warehouses this month

Plus: Mitch McConnell urges Americans: ‘Get vaccinated’ or risk another shutdown

Of course setting up different rules for those who are vaccinated and those who are not can be a minefield. There is no better example than the battered cruise industry, which is trying to resume embarkations from Florida ports. 

The big operators, including Norwegian Cruise Lines NCLH, -1.69%, Royal Caribbean RCL, -1.44% and Carnival Corp. CCL, -2.07%, clearly would like a vaccine requirement to avoid the onboard outbreaks that killed their businesses 18 months ago. They are stymied by a new Florida law that deems proof of vaccination to be discriminatory against un–vaxxed passengers. Norwegian is suing Florida in federal court and threatening to move operations out of the state.

Meanwhile the cruise lines are deploying some reverse incentives to persuade customers to get jabbed, including segregating the unvaccinated aboard ship (think smoking vs. nonsmoking sections), assessing fees up to $180 for pre- and post-trip COVID tests, and insisting on travel insurance policies in case they have to be medically evacuated. 

The cruise lines are also mandating vaccines for all crew members. The Florida law does not ban such a requirement, nor do similar laws or executive orders in other states. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that employers can require employees to be vaccinated subject to reasonable accommodations for medical complications or sincerely held religious beliefs. 

Political objections have kept the federal government from going further and imposing a nationwide vaccine mandate. One recent survey found that only a bare majority of American supported proof of vaccination as a requirement for returning to work. The objections range from allegations that the FDA authorization for the vaccines was rushed to that a mandate is an affront to individual freedoms to that vaccination status is not readily verifiable.

But employers can rely on strong counter arguments. One federal court has already thrown out the argument that the vaccines are still experimental. Mandatory vaccinations against other infectious diseases in the past have taken precedence over individual rights. And fulfillment of immunization requirements for school and work are already being certified by healthcare providers in the private sector.

The fact that the Food and Drug Administration has issued only an emergency use authorization (EUA) for Covid-19 vaccines should be no cause for delay. These vaccines have been so successful in preventing serious disease and so devoid of serious side effects that they will undoubtedly receive full FDA approval in a matter of months. As another federal judge recently noted in his decision to deny a petition to block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate, “Not all EUAs are equal, and the one required for COVID-19 vaccines was more robust than usual.”

Read: American Academy of Pediatrics urges universal masking in schools for everyone ages 2 and up — whether vaccinated or not

We are tantalizingly close to crushing COVID, which makes vaccine resistance hugely frustrating for individuals and businesses trying to return to normal. 

Maybe the federal government will step in with a national mandate if vaccination resistance results in another damaging wave of hospitalizations and death. But employers can’t wait. If they depend on in-person workplaces and face-to-face connections with customers, they will have to be the ones to turn up the pressure. And that may be enough to get us to herd immunity.  

Karen Mulligan, Ph.D., is a fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. Jeffrey E. Harris, MD, Ph.D., is a physician and an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Now read: Is it time for Americans to drop their infatuation with the PCR test? That’s what this COVID-19 testing expert thinks

Also: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may not perform as well against Delta variant, says study

Plus: Immunity provided by COVID-19 vaccines likely to ‘wane, not plummet,’ CDC director tells Congress

No sientas temor por tus hijos

No sientas pena ni temor por tus hijos porque el mundo en el que van a crecer no es el que era antes. Dios los creó y los llamó para el momento exacto en el que se encuentran. Su vida no fue una coincidencia ni un accidente. Levántalos para que conozcan el poder en el que caminan como hijos de Dios.
Entrénalos en la autoridad de Su Palabra.
Enséñalos a caminar en fe, sabiendo que Dios tiene el control.
Capacítalos para que sepan que pueden cambiar el mundo.
No les enseñes a tener miedo y a desanimarse por cómo se encuentra el mundo, sino a tener la esperanza de que pueden hacer algo al respecto.
Cada persona a lo largo de la historia ha sido colocada en el tiempo en que le correspondía de acuerdo al plan soberano de Dios.
Él sabía que Daniel podía con la fosa de los leones.
Él sabía que David podía con Goliat.
Él sabía que Ester podía con Amán.
Él sabía que Pedro podía con la persecución.
Él sabe que tu hijo puede con cualquier desafío que enfrente en su vida. ¡Él los creó específicamente para eso!
No tengas miedo por tus hijos, ¡pero siéntete honrado de que Dios te eligió a TI para ser su padre!  ¡Enséñales el amor de Dios y a compartirlo con todos!
Acepta el desafío.
¡Cría Danieles, Davides, Estheres y Pedros! 
Dios no se rasca la cabeza preguntándose qué va a hacer con este desastre de mundo. ¡Él tiene un ejército que está levantando para hacer retroceder la oscuridad y darlo a conocer en toda la tierra!
No dejes que tu miedo robe la grandeza que Dios puso en tus hijos.
Sé que es difícil imaginarlos como algo más que nuestros bebés, y solo queremos protegerlos de cualquier cosa que pueda ser difícil para ellos, pero nacieron para un momento como este.

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