COVID-19 Vaccination in the Workplace: FAQs for Employers
Pandemics require you to use every tool at your disposal to protect your employees, customers, vendors, and other partners from getting sick. That means washing hands, wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and getting vaccinated. Ensuring that you and your staff are vaccinated will help protect your workforce, community, and business.
About the COVID-19 Vaccine
Why encourage COVID-19 vaccinations for your employees?
- Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect your employees and those around them from serious illnesses.
- Supporting your workforce in their vaccination efforts improves employee satisfaction and loyalty.
- Vaccinated employees are less likely to contract COVID-19, which means you’ll enjoy improved productivity through reduced absenteeism.
Will COVID-19 vaccines be required?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not mandate vaccination as a requirement for work. If you have questions about legal requirements, it’s best to consult your state and local health departments.
Can an employer require vaccination or ask employees for proof that they’ve been vaccinated?
Employers should review their state employment laws to determine if they can require or mandate COVID vaccination as a condition for employment. Regardless of state laws, employers can encourage employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by:
- Establishing policies that permit employees to take paid leave to schedule and receive their vaccines.
- Promoting COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the community.
- Sharing information regarding the importance of vaccination with employees.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not currently have a position on individuals who may refuse COVID-19 vaccinations. For employers covered under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), certain employees may be entitled to an exemption status. Those most likely to have a potential exemption include:
- Individuals who may have an adverse reaction to the vaccine due to an allergy.
- Individuals with existing medical conditions.
- Individuals whose religious beliefs prohibit them from being vaccinated.
For more information, visit the EEOC Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace website.
What information should I share with employees before they receive a vaccine?
The law requires all vaccination providers to give recipients an emergency use authorization (EUA) fact sheet. The EUA fact sheet provides information about the vaccine and possible side effects. It also includes a vaccination record card, the name and manufacturer of the vaccine the individual received, and when the individual needs to return for a second dose (if required).
Employers can also share the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website about what to expect from the vaccination process.
Do vaccinated employees need to continue practicing preventive measures?
The CDC recommends maintaining all preventive measures even after vaccination.
COVID-19 best practices remain unchanged at this time. Everyone—including those who have been vaccinated—is encouraged to wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, wash hands frequently, and clean high-touch surfaces often.
Should employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 get vaccinated?
The CDC recommends that people who have had COVID-19 be vaccinated. It is unclear how long the antibody protection lasts in individuals who were previously infected.
Can we return to our worksite once employees are vaccinated?
Many factors impact the decision to return to your work environment. Business owners should complete an assessment to identify workplace hazards related to the spread of COVID-19.
Review the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 for a comprehensive list of protocols.
You should also consider:
- How necessary it is for your employees to be in the workplace.
- The current COVID-19 transmission rates in your community.
- Whether employees can practice effective social distancing in your work environment.
What if an employee develops a fever after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
If an employee develops a fever after vaccination, the CDC recommends that you:
- Encourage the employee to stay home.
- Encourage the employee to seek further evaluation from a health care provider if the fever or other symptoms worsen or do not go away within a few days of vaccination.
- Review and share the CDC‘s information on post-vaccination side effects.
How should employers handle employees calling off sick after being vaccinated?
Some side effects—including discomfort at the injection site, fever, and joint pain—are common after the COVID-19 vaccine. Encourage employees to contact their health care provider if they:
- Have prolonged pain or redness at the injection site (more than 24 hours after receiving the vaccine).
- Are distressed about prolonged or persistent side effects.
Should employers offer flu clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. The flu is a separate, serious illness that can cause work absences, hospitalization, and even death. It is still recommended that everyone (six months and older) receive the flu vaccine every fall regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status. However, individuals should leave at least 14 days between COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. Visit the CDC’s website for answers to frequently asked questions about the flu, COVID-19, and their respective vaccines.