Employee health – Covid-19 vaccination – anti-vaxxers
We’re close to getting a vaccine against Covid-19. Fantastic news. After one of the most trying years on record, the end of endless fear, furlough, illness, social distancing, lockdowns and limitations on business is in sight. A quick jab and we’ll all be far less at risk. We can see our friends and family again. We can visit our elderly relations in care homes. Restaurants, shops, theatres and gyms can reopen. We can travel abroad without having to quarantine when we get back. We can all put this whole awful, empty year behind us.
But can we? While vaccines are generally viewed as being one of the major achievements of the 20th century, not everyone agrees.
There has been a regrettable increase in those who refuse to be vaccinated has caused the re-emergence of these illnesses, “Anti-vaxxers”, as they are known, refuse to be vaccinated and this has resulted in a surge of infectious diseases like smallpox, whooping cough, polio and measles had been eradicated or nearly so.
Research proves that most of the stated concerns that create opposition to vaccination are nothing more than misconceptions.
Of these, the best-known example was the MMR vaccine, used to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella. The belief that vaccines can cause autism has become widespread in the past few years. But multiple studies have shown that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism. So, by refusing their child the MMR, anti-vaxxer parents run the risk of saving their child from the non-existent risk of autism but expose them to the very real risk of death by measles, mumps or rubella, all of which are very unpleasant.
The decision not to vaccinate oneself or one’s children doesn’t just affect the individual. If too few people take the anti-Covid vaccine, then we can’t achieve herd immunity and the virus will remain a permanent threat.
While the Government will be encouraging people to take the vaccination, businesses also need to support the vaccination process.
What can you do to help ensure the maximum staff take-up?
- Make it easy for staff to get the jab. Offer employees time off to get the vaccination. It doesn’t take long, but some people might need to take a couple of days off to get over any mild side effects.
- If you employ lots of people, set up a mobile vaccination centre for everyone to get a shot (in much the same way blood donation works). And it would help if the chief executive was the first person to roll up their sleeves for a shot. Peer pressure is going to be crucial in persuading people to take the vaccine and leading by example is always the best place to start.
- Consider giving a bonus for staff who have the vaccine. Many companies give their staff a Christmas bonus, and some form of profit-sharing as well. Offer a cash payment or a gift voucher as a reward for anyone who is vaccinated.
- If an employee refuses to come to work because of the risk of catching the virus, but refuses to take a vaccine, then confirm that the absence will be treated as unpaid, unauthorised absence.
- If the vaccine cannot be taken for health reasons, investigate and ask for a detailed report setting out the reasons from the employee’s GP.
Coronavirus has done enormous human and economic damage this year and if we don’t act it will just rage on. We all have a stake in defeating it, none more than business. Once we have a vaccine, employers must do what they reasonably can to make sure everyone takes it. That could conceivably be a few short weeks away, so start preparing for it now.
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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.
Copyright © 2021 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.