COVID-19 Vaccine: What Employers Need to Know

by Michael Rivas, Assurance Agency

With all the recent vaccine news, many employers and individuals alike are wondering when the vaccine will become widely available, if organizations will be permitted to require employees to get vaccinated, how to communicate to employees about the vaccine, and much more.

MMA recently hosted a webcast to help answer some of these questions. Here are a few highlights:

Which vaccines are currently approved?

The Pfizer vaccine was granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 11 and began distributing across the country the week of December 14. Moderna has also applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA, and more companies are expected to apply for authorization in the coming months.

Who will be able to receive the vaccine first?

According to a U.S. advisory panel, the first round of individuals to receive the vaccine are healthcare workers, long-term care residents, and first responders.

Will there be a cost to receive the vaccine?

Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to Americans free of charge, according to the CDC. However, vaccine providers will be able to charge administrative fees for administering shots to individuals.

Can employers mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for their employees?

In general, the answer is yes, but employers will need to consider accommodations for employees with sincerely held religious beliefs that do not permit traditional medicine and employees with health or disability issues for whom vaccination is inadvisable. Additionally, there are legal ramifications that an employer should consult their attorney about before putting any mandate in effect. The EEOC also published additional information related to the COVID vaccine that can be found here: What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws (see section K)

Can employers purchase a supply of the vaccine for their employees?

At this time, the federal government is purchasing all supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, so there is no option for employers to purchase a supply for its employees.

To learn more, check out MMA’s employer fact sheet or watch the full webcast replay.

Michael Rivas is Senior Vice President, Risk Services at Assurance. He oversees the company’s risk services department, which includes compliance, wellness, risk transfer, safety and claims. Michael is responsible for integrating risk management services that provide a more holistic approach to minimizing risk and maximizing health. Michael received a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Governors State University. He sits on the Governors State Advisory Board and is a member of the Illinois Occupational Therapy Association, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers and American Occupational Therapy Association. He’s authored several published articles and has spoken on a wide range of risk management topics for various associations.

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