Employer vaccine mandates are becoming common and are persuading many employees to get inoculated against COVID-19, according to White House data.
“Businesses have more power than ever before to change the arc of this pandemic and save lives,” President Joe Biden said while speaking Thursday in Chicago, reported The New York Times. Biden announced Sept. 9 plans for a new rule requiring employers with at least 100 employees to mandate that their workers be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. The president also signed orders stipulating that most federal employees and federal contractors, as well as most health care workers, be vaccinated against COVID-19.
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Vaccination Rates Have Risen
Health care systems, schools, public-sector agencies and private businesses with COVID-19 vaccine mandates have seen vaccination rates increase 20 points—often to over 90 percent, according to White House analysis. That’s much higher than the average fully vaccinated rate for working-age adults—63 percent.
Mandates Are Becoming Standard
More than 3,500 organizations already require vaccination. Vaccination requirements are in place at 25 percent of businesses, 40 percent of hospitals, and colleges and universities serving 37 percent of all graduate and undergraduate students. Thousands more businesses will put in place vaccine mandates over coming weeks as new rules for employers with at least 100 workers are finalized.
Airlines Add Vaccine Mandates
American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue all have recently added vaccine mandates for employees. American said the move was needed because of its status as a government contractor. Last month, Biden announced that employees of government contractors must be vaccinated with only limited exceptions.
Kaiser Permanente has put more than 2,200 employees who have declined to get vaccinated on unpaid leave—slightly more than 1 percent of its workforce. The employees have until Dec. 1 to get vaccinated or be terminated. Kaiser Permanente employs about 216,000 workers nationwide. Since its vaccination mandate was announced, the inoculation rate among workers has risen from 78 percent to 92 percent as of Oct. 5.
Firing Unvaccinated Workers Becomes More Common
More employers are firing workers, particularly health care employees, who defy mandates to get vaccinated against COVID-19. While the total number of dismissed employees is low so far, the efforts seem to be driving more unvaccinated workers to get a shot, say health advisors.
Sotomayor Declines to Block NYC Vaccination Mandate
On Oct. 1, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor declined to block New York City’s vaccination mandate against COVID-19 for all city Department of Education employees. Sotomayor did not refer the issue to the full court or ask for a response from New York City—a sign the court didn’t believe the challenge of the mandate was compelling.