Vaccine Mandates are just the first step when it comes to increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates. It’s time to start thinking about the next step.
The FDA’s August announcement that it had granted full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine had employers across the country asking roughly the same question: If we decide to mandate that workers be vaccinated— or even just encourage our employees to get the shot— what can we do to help them comply?
Like nearly everything related to COVID-19, the answer is, of course, complicated. Workers across the country hold a wide range of perspectives on vaccination. Some welcome the shot. Some are hesitant. Some may request disability or religious-belief exemptions to vaccine mandates, while others may simply ignore their employer’s requests. A significant number may already be vaccinated, while many more might welcome the shot, but only if the process to get it is exceedingly easy.
What is clear, for now, is that vaccine mandates are on the rise. One recent survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. employers found that while 21 percent had implemented COVID-19 vaccination requirements as of late August, more than half said they would do so by the end of the year. And that came before President Biden instructed the Department of Labor to impose vaccine mandates on businesses with at least 100 employees. Those employers would need to ensure all employees are vaccinated against the virus or submit to weekly testing to rule out infection.
The bottom line for employers today? Even if you intend to (or must) require vaccinations, simply imposing a vaccine mandate alone isn’t enough. To minimize the risk of at-work COVID-19 infections and the business disruptions sure to follow, you need a strategy that helps the business track vaccination status, monitor COVID-19 test results, or even help it facilitate vaccination campaigns to get more people protected.
Determine if at-work vaccination clinics are needed with worker attestation
Before deciding if your organization will host a vaccination clinic, an accurate breakdown of current employee vaccination status is required. And collecting information on your workforce’s current vaccination profile can be a highly administrative and imprecise process if not planned properly. With the use of software tools, employers can easily track vaccination status in one location using attestation questionnaires to capture who’s been vaccinated, or even to collect weekly COVID-19 PCR tests for those unable – or unwilling – to get the shot.
Such COVID-19 software solutions allow workers to easily submit this information directly from their mobile device, including attaching proof of vaccination and tests to support their claim. This valuable data feeds powerful dashboards giving business leaders a more accurate view of vaccination status and helping the organization make better-informed business decisions on priorities and where to allocate resources to optimize immunization rates and reduce the risk of workplace outbreaks.
Establish workplace vaccination clinics
While you can implement vaccine mandates and hope your employees comply by getting shots on their own, the best way to ensure they follow through is by establishing vaccination clinics where they work.
At-work vaccination clinics are ideal because they immediately eliminate what many say are the biggest barriers to getting a shot. Some may not want to spend their free time standing in line for something they see as optional, or they may not have that time at all because of personal or family obligations, or other jobs.
The first steps to take when implementing a workplace vaccination clinic is to review recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and contact your local health department for guidance. You will need trained clinicians to administer the shots—vaccines must be free and provided during working hours—and you’ll need to establish administrative processes for billing insurance companies and reporting to health authorities.
Related: Time to Roll Up Your Sleeves: How to Run an Effective COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign
Automate your vaccination clinic processes
While establishing a workplace vaccination clinic requires resources, managing it efficiently is another thing altogether. Among the many issues that must be considered: scheduling appointments, tracking vaccine inventory, ensuring data privacy, and optimizing administrative tasks for clinicians. With that in mind, most organizations will want to leverage specialized software solutions designed to automate clinic management processes.
Software tools are available, for example, that allow workers to book appointments with an app on their phone. Once scheduled, the employee can receive automated reminders about their appointment time. They can also use a scannable barcode during check-in to minimize the time they have to spend in the clinic.
Other software solutions tackle inventory management to ensure your clinic has adequate vaccine on hand to administer shots to everyone who comes in. Each time a shot is delivered, the clinician simply scans a barcode on the vaccine vial to automatically update the inventory. When inventory falls below a pre-set threshold, an alert is sent to the clinic manager so they know that it’s time to place another order.
Finally, employers should lean on tools that streamline recordkeeping and compliance. You can minimize the work associated with clinical charting, for example, with secure mobile solutions that allow employees to complete medical questionnaires and liability waivers before they arrive for their appointments. Using barcodes—on ID badges, for example—you can also link charts to each worker’s medical record so the clinician has everything he or she needs to ensure there are no contraindications to vaccine delivery.
Automating the processes surrounding vaccination delivery also allows you to collect data on your program for regulatory reporting requirements. These requirements tend to vary by jurisdiction, so the best place to start for issues related to compliance is by contacting local health officials.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is that an at-work vaccination campaign is an investment in the health of your workforce and business. By helping those employees who have yet to be vaccinated get the shot as soon as possible, you’re not only helping to protect them and their colleagues, you are also protecting the workplace itself.
Learn more about what to consider when implementing vaccine mandates
For more on vaccine mandates, optimizing at-work vaccination clinics, and how to accurately track employee vaccination status, watch this webinar: A Shot in the Arm: How to Boost Your Workplace Vaccination Rates.