More and more employers have begun mandating employee vaccines, but due to the new government recommendations for booster shots, employers will need to consider whether or not to mandate booster shots as well. Though for most employers, this decision will be complicated and important, for nursing homes, this will be a particularly crucial consideration as choosing not to mandate full vaccination could result in a loss of federal insurance funding.
On August 18th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, alongside multiple other federal health officials, recommended that all individuals that had received either of the two primary mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines, specifically Moderna and Pfizer, receive a booster shot in order to boost their body’s resistance to the virus. These booster shots are currently expected to become available to the public starting in the month of September. Individuals should attempt to schedule their booster shots eight months after their second shot.
According to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, and other leading health officials in the announcement, the protection against the illness, including hospitalization and death occurring from it, may decline in the coming months. This may particularly affect those with increased risk factors and those who received the vaccine early. As a result, in order to prolong the strong protection of the vaccine, it is necessary to receive a booster shot.
Despite the clear support for a booster from the CDC and other government health officials, employers have a considerable challenge ahead of them in choosing whether to mandate a vaccine booster shot. First of all, will the state and local rules of any given area regard those without a booster shot as fully vaccinated still, will employees react well to being required to receive another shot, and can employees receive exemptions now if they did not for the first shots?
Some strongly believe that the booster will be required in most areas to still be regarded as fully vaccinated, and employers should be ready for this. As of now, the booster shots are set to begin on September 20th, assuming an FDA evaluation of the effectiveness and safety of a third shot goes well, which will give employers a bit of time to prepare.
Plus, depending on the availability of the booster shots, the first likely will be distributed to health care and emergency workers, the residents of nursing homes, and then likely older populations, there may be more of a delay for the general population. Regardless, it is important to plan and prepare for if you will mandate vaccination for your employees.