A few months ago, it looked like the United States was ready to beat the pandemic. Infection rates were dropping, and with vaccines becoming widely available the country was looking at returning to some kind of normal within weeks.
However, as the Delta variant hit the U.S., it soon became obvious that COVID-19 was back. At the same time, vaccination rates started slowing down. To this day, the rate of fully vaccinated individuals in the United States sits stubbornly at just over 50%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Looking at the figures of those eligible for vaccination – people aged 12 or above – the number is just over 60%.
Millions of Americans remain unvaccinated, although vaccines are widely available. The vaccines approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) are all highly effective, even against the Delta variant. Whilst you may become infected, vaccines prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Becoming vaccinated is an individual choice, but it has consequences for others. By taking the vaccine, people are not only lowering their own risk of severe disease, but they are also protecting others.
Families, friends, and work colleagues all benefit when the majority of people they interact with have been vaccinated. A recent case in Marin County, California, saw one elementary school teacher passing the virus on to about half of the students in the classroom. Some of the students then infected family members. The teacher had not been vaccinated and was not wearing a mask at the time.
As more school districts are preparing to go back to face-to-face teaching and countless employers are hoping to return to office-based work, debates over mask mandates and vaccinations continue.
Over the past month, big-name employers including Google and United Airlines as well as state governments started implementing vaccine mandates. Some are giving employees a choice: get vaccinated or continue to wear a mask and submit to regular COVID-19 testing.
The message is clear: employers are looking to keep their onsite teams as safe as possible and promote vaccinations. Mandates are not only applying to office workers. Even meat processors like Tyson Foods are now requiring staff to be vaccinated. Any business that needs staff to be present and working relatively closely with each other is likely considering vaccine mandates at this time.
Whilst the decision whether to require vaccination or not lies with individual employers, they need to consider both legal implications and practicalities of vaccination verification.
Vaccination requirements not only apply to employers. Event organizers such as the United States Tennis Association recently announced that U.S. Open spectators would be required to show proof of vaccination.
Asking employees about their vaccination status needs to be done carefully and considerately. Concerns raised include being forced to share too many details of individual medical histories.
Human resources experts have advised employers to simply ask for confirmation of vaccination status. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers should avoid asking follow-up questions if someone is not vaccinated. If vaccination records then need to be verified through a third party such as a pharmacy or a health care provider, it is once again important not to share too much. Put simply, the verification should be little more than a yes/no question and answer.
With the information gathered, storing it safely is another concern for employers. Any confirmation provided by employees and related documentation to confirm their vaccination status must be treated with the same confidentiality as other medical records.
Apart from legal considerations, employers also need to check how practical it is for them to collect, store and update their team’s vaccination status.
The U.S. health system is famously fragmented. Pharmacies have one way of recording vaccinations given, primary healthcare providers will have another, and privately funded vaccination drives by employers would be managed differently once again.
If you have a handful of employees in one location, it is easy to stay on top of their vaccination status. However, when managing dozens or even hundreds of staff across different locations and shift patterns it becomes more complex.
Vaccination Verification service from TrueCare™ has been designed to help employers keep track of the vaccination status of their teams.
Apart from verifying each team member’s first and (where applicable) second injections, they are fully compliant with legal requirements.
Plus, your team’s data is kept safe and handled in strict confidence, including records of those exempt from vaccination for medical reasons.
As an employer or HR manager, you simply invite each team member to confirm their vaccination status and upload supporting documents. Reporting tools allow you to view individual locations and assess the safety of company offices and other locations.
Keeping employees safe is part of being a responsible employer. Vaccination verification is one of the best ways to protect not only your staff but their families and loved ones.
TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.