The development of Coronavirus vaccines took off in January 2020 when its genetic sequence was published. Vaccine development usually takes several years, but Covid-19 vaccines had a head start because the research was already underway when the pandemic began. The first vaccinations began in December 2020 kicking off the most urgent immunization effort since the polio vaccine. Following are things to consider about requiring vaccinations and resources for encouraging them.
Accommodation – Consider allowing unvaccinated lawyers and staff to continue working from home or providing them with a designated work area in the office.
Alternatives – Policy options include mandating the vaccine, encouraging it, or having no vaccination policy. Although some firms have mandated vaccines, many have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Guidance from the EEOC allows employers to require vaccinations unless it conflicts with a disability or religious belief. Developing state and local laws may add further complications.
Communication – Distribute information about vaccines to lawyers and staff to make them aware of the benefits and risks of vaccination. Appoint a vaccine ambassador to reach out to employees, discuss their experiences, and encourage vaccination.
Incentivize – Provide incentives to promote vaccination like awarding a gift card or paid leave to those who have been vaccinated.
Policy – Adopt a written policy on vaccinations and distribute it to lawyers and staff. Cover vaccination requirements, consequences for failing to get vaccinated, and procedures for keeping the workplace safe from Covid-19.
Polling – Poll lawyers and staff to determine whether they have been vaccinated. Ask why the unvaccinated are unwilling or procrastinating so you can address their concerns. Find out if there is a reluctance to return to the office without a mandatory vaccination policy.
Privacy – Comply with privacy laws by keeping vaccination information confidential and separate it from personnel records.
Resources – For insight, read articles about the benefits of vaccination, development of vaccines, and vaccination trends. Prior to adopting a vaccination policy, read articles about best practices, common questions, and public attitudes. Also read articles about legal, planning, and practical considerations. See sample policy statements and visit the CDC website to access vaccination guidance and educational resources.
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Conclusion. Prior to reopening offices, law firms should consider adopting a policy on vaccinations and strategies for promoting them. Maintain a Covid safe working environment and accommodate those with health and other issues. Use the tips and resources mentioned in this article to decide whether to require vaccinations and to promote a healthy workplace.