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As India began the world’s largest immunization exercise against COVID-19, which has so far infected more than 1 crore people and killed more than 1.5 lakh in the country, around 100 beneficiaries each from the 3 crore priority group comprising healthcare and frontline workers were given the first shots of COVID-19 vaccines on the first day.
Now since the rollout has been launched, another biggest challenge is persuading people to take them. Getting 70% or more of the public vaccinated or recovered from the COVID-19 virus is critical to containing the disease and creating herd immunity.
Since employers too have an obligation to maintain a safe and healthy workforce, including infection mitigation procedures, they need to keep it simple and strongly encourage the vaccine among their employees. Experts say employers play a major role in encouraging employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and help drive up immunity and get society back to normal.
Here's how employers can play a big role in promoting COVID-19 vaccinations among their employees:
No doubt, we Indians are hesitant about taking a vaccine for COVID-19. The declining caseload in India is also affecting everyone's interest in the vaccine. According to a report, 48.1% of employees say that they would accept their employer’s recommendation to take a vaccination, which implies that employers play a significant role in vaccine promotion. So, it's important for employers to conduct a company-wide survey to understand the reluctance or hesitancy regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and also determine potential acceptance rates and factors influencing the same.
The key measure needed to overcome hesitation is to keep employees updated about the vaccine trial results, including adverse events and successes. Clear and consistent communication by employers is crucial in building employee confidence in their vaccine campaigns. This includes explaining how vaccines work, as well as how they are developed, from the beginning to the final regulatory approval based on safety and efficacy. Effective information campaigns should also aim to explain the vaccine’s level of effectiveness carefully, the time needed for protection with its multiple doses if required, and the importance of population-wide coverage to achieve country-wide immunity.
Vaccines not only keep the recipient safe, but they also take care of those around us who may be more susceptible, at risk, or have compromised immune systems. It’s important to educate the employee on why they would want the vaccine. The idea is to make your employees understand the goal and why you’re asking them to get the vaccine that you care for their health, their safety, and also the benefits they will get from participating in the vaccine campaign.
Employers should ensure that people in their workforce do not have to choose between work and getting vaccinated. Hence, they should create policies that provide paid time off for the vaccination process. Recognize the challenges for employees with children and hence facilitate vaccination during times that are both convenient and feasible for the employees and their families. Also, when vaccines become more broadly available, employers can set up an on-campus vaccination campaign and provide incentives to employees who volunteer to get vaccinated to overcome hesitation in the workforce.
Taking a moment to reach out to your employees and educate them is really vital because there’s a lot of fear and misinformation out there. Hence, employers can help resolve that knowledge gap and false information by implementing a corporate wellness program that includes vaccinations, and other related information.
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