Vaccinating the American workforce will make a huge contribution to herd immunity in the country.
Instacart, Target, Trader Joe’s, McDonald’s, and Dollar General are among a growing list of companies giving workers time off and extra cash to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Others, including Amazon, Uber, and DoorDash, go a step further and stand up for state officials to secure vaccines for their workers. Retail, aerospace, restaurant and meat packaging companies have also advocated priority access.
The Occupational Safety and Health Agency recently issued guidelines paving the way for companies to provide a Covid vaccine to all eligible employees free of charge.
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Yet “getting the vaccine is a distribution issue for now,” said John Ho, a labor and employment attorney for Cozen O’Connor in New York and chairman of the firm’s OSHA Practice Group.
“If you can get the private sector to help, great,” he added. “Once it’s widespread, it’s a win-win situation.”
Laura Boudreau, Assistant Professor of Economics at Columbia Business School, said, “We’re still in a phase of sales that can be difficult to do, but I think we’ll see some big companies along the way. “
In a new survey of employers, nearly 80% said they were looking for ways to provide vaccines to workers and 28% said they would consider buying vaccines privately, according to consulting firm Willis Towers Watson.
“Employers are trying to make vaccination easier almost everywhere,” said Jeff Levin-Scherz, director of public health at Willis Towers Watson.
Willis Towers Watson found that employers, especially those with large, publicly accessible or high-risk employees, are best placed to offer vaccinations on-site.
Still, it can take a while for supply to catch up with demand, forcing many businesses to wait weeks or months.
“As long as the vaccine is scarce, most employers will not try to cross the line,” Levin-Scherz said.
Ultimately, it is up to states to decide how vaccines are distributed.
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