Thaddeus Swanek Thaddeus Swanek
Senior Writer and Editor, Strategic Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


April 16, 2021


This week’s Path Forward event focused on companies’ various strategies for encouraging employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Path Forward, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event series, helps business and community leaders find the answers they need to execute a responsible reopening strategy for a post-pandemic world.

What Happened?

In a wide-ranging discussion with U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark, business leaders emphasized the importance of encouraging—not requiring—employees to get vaccinated.

Dr. Nicole Shaffer, senior director of Colleague Wellness at Pfizer, said her company provides employees with facts and statistics in case family members or colleagues have questions about the vaccines. Tina Sandri, CEO of Forest Hills of DC, said her nursing home business’s strategy for vaccinating its workforce is to focus on education. Today, over 80% of their employees are fully vaccinated.

All three urged Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible with any of the approved vaccines in order to protect themselves and others.

What the Experts Are Saying:

“For us to reach the post-pandemic world we are all anxiously awaiting, we need to turn vaccines into vaccinations across the country—and around the world. The U.S. Chamber has been working to bring together employers across the nation to lead that effort. Our Rally for Recovery Commitment has been signed by hundreds of employers—representing more than 4.5 million employees.” – Suzanne Clark, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“Our literacy around risk comprehension is very, very low in this country. When we look at people’s responses to social distancing and mask wearing, and what it means when the incidence of COVID is high versus low in a community…There’s a lot of work to do to understand risk and relative risk.” – Dr. Susan Garfield, Ernst & Young’s Americas Chief Public Health Officer

“Vaccination is one of our strongest social contracts in the context of health care…Me getting vaccinated as a relatively healthy person is not only protecting me, my family, and my community, but it’s particularly protecting those most vulnerable around us: those with underlying health issues, who are immune-comprised, pregnant, or otherwise.” – Dr. Susan Garfield

“We’re not requiring our employees or contractors to be vaccinated in order to work in our workplace… That’s not who we are as an employer. We encourage and educate…We are very much about choice. ” – Dr. Nicole Shaffer, Senior Director of Colleague Wellness at Pfizer

“There are some groups that are more [vaccine] hesitant than others. We’ve not pushed back any further than providing them with the tools and education to make their decision, the best decision that’s right for them.” – Dr. Nicole Shaffer

“We took a very strong educational approach of ‘knowledge is power.’ Get educated, so you can make a choice as to what’s good for you and your family, rather than having it done for you.” – Tina Sandri, CEO of Forest Hills of D.C.

“If your strategy is to hit herd immunity, you better understand the culture that you’re in.” – Tina Sandri

What You Can Do:

Consider joining the Rally for Recovery Commitment, a U.S. Chamber-led program encouraging every company and organization to take three basic, but important steps to get the country back to health and American workers back to work by:

  • Encouraging mask wearing and social distancing in the workplace.
  • Reducing barriers to employee vaccinations.
  • Communicating with your customers and communities about how to stop the spread of the virus.

Up Next:

Please join future Path Forward events to learn how to better protect you workers, customers, coworkers, and friends from the spread of coronavirus.

Additional Resources:

About the authors

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus is a senior writer and editor with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's strategic communications team.

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