COVID-19 pandemic: NSC urges employers to make vaccine plans

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council is calling on employers to support the adoption and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of the first such vaccine for emergency use.

In a Dec. 14 press release, NSC states that widespread support of the vaccine is needed for the health of the U.S. populace and the country’s economic recovery. The council recommends that all employers start developing a vaccine plan.

Plans should include educating employees on vaccine benefits and how to get vaccinated when it’s available, along with setting up an internal task force to handle all vaccine-related concerns. NSC suggests that task forces include professionals from human resources, legal, communications, and health and safety departments.

Another recommendation: Answer employees’ questions about their legal rights. Employer-mandated vaccination may prove to be a thorny issue, according to the results of an Eagle Hill Consulting LLC survey of more than 1,000 employees conducted Dec. 4-8. Respondents were nearly evenly split on whether organizations should require COVID-19 vaccines, with about 49% in favor.

“The road ahead will be complicated for employers, as our research indicates,” Eagle Hill President and CEO Melissa Jezior said in a press release. “The workforce clearly is split on employer vaccine mandates, so it’s going to be contentious no matter where an employer lands on inoculation requirements.

“There has never been a more crucial time for meaningful employee engagement, which could make or break organizations already struggling. It won’t be enough to just announce vaccine plans to employees. Instead, leaders are prudent to engage in conversations to understand the views of their workforce now to develop a vaccine strategy that is aligned with business goals and employee preferences.”

In the meantime, NSC is calling on employers to continue COVID-19 safety precautions such as encouraging the use of face coverings, physical distancing, frequent handwashing, remote work for all employees who can do so, testing and contact tracing.

“It will take time for vaccines to be widely available,” NSC states in a Dec. 10 press release. “We cannot let our guard down.”

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