Updated 9/10/21

Small businesses with 100 employees or more may soon be required to mandate employee vaccines. That’s the top take away from President Biden’s newly released COVID-19 Action Plan. If the new rules are enacted businesses could also be required to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated. These orders are expected to be challenged but if enacted could take effect within a few weeks. The administration is also requiring that federal workers and employees of federal government contractors be vaccinated.

For more information on how to help get your employees vaccinated check out the U.S. Chamber Foundation's downloadable Employee Vaccination Guide.

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If your business is mandating or strongly encouraging employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it may be a good idea to offer your own vaccine event. To help small businesses navigate the numerous steps and considerations for holding a workplace vaccine event, we’ve compiled this guide to get you started.

How vaccine events encourage widespread vaccination

As the pandemic continues, many businesses and organizations across the world are enacting vaccine mandates for their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC and top health officials have emphasized the vaccines are safe, effective and reduce the risk of acquiring COVID-19. The vaccine also helps individuals from becoming seriously ill even if they do get COVID-19.

According to the CDC, employers should continue to follow the Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19 to ensure all in-person employees are protected, even if they are fully vaccinated. This includes wearing masks or face coverings, maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet from other employees and washing hands often.

This is important for businesses because following these guidelines allows employees to safely work in close quarters once again. It also gives employees a chance to regain a sense of normalcy that has eluded many businesses the past year and a half. Employers can also look forward to the possibility of increased morale and productivity among employees as they work together to keep everyone safe.

[Read more: Incentives to Encourage Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine]

What you’ll need to host an employee vaccine event

Vaccines and authorization

If you want to host a vaccine event in your workplace, remember that state or local jurisdiction may have specific laws about how to approach it. You can find out your state’s requirements on hosting an on or off-site clinic by contacting the health department in your jurisdiction.

Vaccines and other supplies are regulated strictly through the federal government. The supplies are usually sent to pharmacies and other state vaccination clinics as they become available. To receive supplies for your company's vaccine event, it’s beneficial to partner with a community vaccination vendor or supplier. These vendors usually supply flu vaccinations and are starting to expand their reach with COVID-19 vaccines.

Senior leadership buy in

Get your company’s c-suite and other senior leadership to “buy into” the vaccine event’s initiative. A “buy in” is the leadership taking a stance to publicly support and provide money or resources to help make the vaccine event a success. Senior leadership can frame this vaccine event as a company priority and outline goals that can be accomplished from the event’s success. Employees are more likely to volunteer or participate in the event if it’s backed by top management. Have your CEO write a letter to the company’s employees supporting the event or give them the opportunity to show up at the event to show their endorsement.

Qualified vaccine administrators

The federal government has deemed the following individuals qualified to administer the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Doctors and physician assistants

  • Registered nurses

  • EMTs and paramedics

  • Dentists

  • Optometrists

  • Podiatrists

  • Respiratory therapists

  • Veterinarians

Some nursing students or other students studying healthcare could also be qualified to give the vaccine to employees with another healthcare supervisor present. You could partner with your local community college or university to give students experience and networking opportunities at your vaccine event. A vaccine vendor or supplier is another option to retain that has a trained nursing staff available to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Make sure vaccination providers are taking proper care to monitor employees after they’ve received the vaccine for any signs of allergic reactions.

[Read more: 5 Things Employers Can Do Now to Prepare for a Vaccine]

Signage/promotion

Head to your business’s social media channels and office break rooms to promote your vaccine event. Talk about the benefits of getting vaccinated including a return to normal and a chance to end the pandemic. Think of a hashtag your company can utilize in each social media post to connect followers and allow employees to share their own photos or posts. Hand out flyers around the office or campus or send a company-wide email out with all the details. In each post or email, be sure to include how to register, the time and date as well as where the event will take place.

Easy access to vaccine site

Make it as easy as possible for employees to get to the vaccination site with plenty of space for social distancing and vaccine supplies. Whether it’s in your building or a short ride away, give your employees time off to get their vaccination during work hours. Ask supervisors and managers if they’ll consider allowing employees to go to the vaccination site without having to go off the clock or take personal leave time.

Education

Employees may have questions or concerns about getting the vaccine and how it will affect them. Ensure your employees have access to proper information and reputable sources to make their decision on whether or not to attend your vaccine event. Provide them with the proper information in emails and consider enlisting a healthcare professional to field questions during designated times within an office setting.

Incentives

Many businesses are providing incentives to employees that receive a COVID-19 vaccination including cash, food and other rewards. Consider offering each employee a gift card or cash incentive at your vaccine event. Additionally, it may help to provide employees with a paid time off incentive or accommodations to recover from the vaccine. Offering incentives may persuade previously hesitant employees to attend the vaccine event.

[Read more: Mandating Employee Vaccinations? What You Need to Know]

Considerations for your vaccine event

After the vaccine event, plan for potential labor shortages due to potential side effects from the vaccine including fatigue and flu-like symptoms. Some employees may react uniquely to the vaccine, so be sure to plan accordingly for those who need extra time to recoup. It may help to take steps to stagger vaccination schedules in order to ensure continuity of operations.

It’s important to remember it is not a company’s responsibility or place to force a vaccine on an employee. While a company can mandate a COVID-19 vaccine as company policy and enforce consequences for not getting it, they cannot force their employees to receive it. Some employees may have reasons for not getting the vaccine and may provide your company with a religious or medical exemption. Be open and honest with your employees about your expectations for vaccinations in the workplace and have one-on-one conversations with those who have concerns or questions.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Where business leaders go to grow

CO— is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Published August 11, 2021