On April 6, President Biden announced that by April 19, 2021, every adult in the United States could sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination. This did not mean that everyone would receive the vaccine by April 19, but that everyone would be eligible to make an appointment by that date at the latest. This date was moved up from President Biden’s original goal of May 1 due to vaccine rollout progress.
The reason there has been some confusion regarding vaccine eligibility up to this point is because each state has its own criteria for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. Some states have been clear about which groups are eligible, what the eligibility phases are and when other groups will be eligible. Others have been less clear. Clarity from the federal government that all adults in the U.S. will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 19 was welcome and should help clear up confusion regarding existing rules.
TCIA members and others reading this article should know they can make an appointment for vaccination and can convey to their employees that they can do the same.
A useful tool to use is the website vaccinefinder.org. This website helps you find available vaccination appointments in your area. One simply enters one’s zip code, and the website shows where the nearest sites with appointments are located and allows you to make an appointment. This tool is still adding providers, so it is also worth checking your state’s health department to find appointments at state-run vaccination sites.
It is normal for employees to show hesitation about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Employers should consider that great efforts have been made to ensure vaccines are safe and that getting vaccinated is the most feasible way to end the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CDC and other major health organizations. Employers should encourage all employees to talk with their physician or primary-care provider for the most up-to-date information on the vaccines.
Knowing when you and your employees will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and making a plan to get vaccinated could have many benefits for your business. Reducing risk of lost employee time to COVID-19 sickness is one of the obvious benefits of vaccination. Businesses also have seen benefits in both employee and client satisfaction relating to safety coming from widespread COVID-19 vaccinations.
Some other best practices to consider for your business when thinking about COVID-19 vaccinations include, per the CDC:
• Allowing employees to get vaccinated during work hours or take paid leave to get vaccinated at a community site.
• Offering flexible, non-punitive sick-leave options (e.g., paid sick leave) for employees with side effects after vaccination.
• Considering staggering employee vaccination to avoid worker shortages due to vaccine side effects.
• Allowing time for vaccine confidence to grow. Employees who are hesitant at first may become more confident after seeing co-workers get vaccinated.
• Inviting employees to share their personal reasons for getting vaccinated and remind staff why it is important to be vaccinated.
• Educating workers and helping those who are eligible for vaccination to make their appointments through available channels. Make sure employees know the COVID-19 vaccine is provided free of charge.
The United States is on the right path regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, but there is still a lot of work to do. The summer and fall of 2021 will be a critical time for getting Americans protected from the virus.
If you have questions about vaccination eligibility, upcoming policies relating to vaccines or other workplace-safety policies, contact Aiden O’Brien, TCIA’s advocacy & standards manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.