How do booster doses fit into vaccination policies? Here’s what to consider as you decide whether or not (and how) to address booster doses in vaccination policies.
Here's what you need to know:
- Reevaluate your original vaccination policies and determine whether it’s time to modify your policies and protocols
- There are clear medical benefits to boosters but also some potential drawbacks to requiring booster doses
- The goal is to keep your employees and customers safe while ensuring that your employees know that their concerns are heard and considered
A lot has happened since 2020. At one point it felt like we’d be in the pandemic forever, and then vaccines were developed. Soon after the original vaccination came the 1st booster dose. Recently, another round of vaccine boosters has entered the market.
But so much has changed from the last time boosters were released. Even more has changed since the beginning of the pandemic and the original vaccine.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to including booster doses in vaccination requirements (or not). The tough part is that there’s no correct answer. It’s up to federal, state, and local regulations and what’s best for your business.
Where are companies standing now on vaccine policies? And how do booster doses fit into vaccination policies? Here’s what to consider as you decide whether or not (and how) to address booster doses in vaccination policies.
Reevaluate your original vaccination policies
Many employers went into a flurry over vaccination policies when the original vaccines came out. After the initial wave of worry and coming up with a vaccination policy, many employers might not have thought much about them since.
And it makes sense. There is still a lot going on. Once you have something settled and in writing, why fuss with it?
A lot has changed since the original vaccines. It’s never a bad idea to go over your policy now that it’s been in place for a while.
Well, a lot has changed since the original vaccines. It’s never a bad idea to go over your policy now that it’s been in place for a while.
The important thing to keep in mind is that there’s no entirely right or wrong answer about what to do with vaccination policies in 2022. It all depends on your business and your employees. The best thing you can do is to work with your HR team and your legal teams to figure out the best course of action.
Is it time to modify your vaccination policies and protocols?
Do you have a vaccination or test protocol that you don’t want to keep in place? COVID-19 tests certainly aren’t free. Maybe it’s time to switch to requiring the vaccine for everyone who is eligible legally and medically.
Many people who didn’t want to get vaccines cited the newness of the vaccine and a desire to see things play out. Quite a bit of time has passed now, so a vaccination requirement today isn’t the same as 1 from last year.
Maybe you’ve decided that it’s time to switch from a mandatory policy to a volunteer 1 or vice versa. If you go the volunteer route, consider ways that you can still incentivize the choice without requiring it. Finding ways to make getting the vaccine free and available at work during work hours can help.
Whatever changes you make, if any, the 1st thing you should do is reevaluate your current vaccination policy. Especially if you’re weighing whether or not to amend it to include boosters, now’s the time to reevaluate the whole thing to ensure it’s working as well as possible.
There are clear medical benefits to boosters
Those with medical conditions are already struggling as masking requirements evaporate. Getting relaxed on these kinds of requirements can place a new value on vaccination mandates at work.
As the Mayo Clinic explains, immune responses naturally fade over time. This is why booster doses during an active pandemic are likely a good idea.
This becomes especially true as the virus continues to mutate and change over time. This means that the original vaccine or even the 1st booster can fail to recognize new strands.
Beyond helping ensure the health of your employees and customers, there are business benefits, too. Boosters help to decrease the risk of infection and transmission of the virus. This means that companies with more vaccinated and boosted employees will have less transmission around the office.
Another important element is quarantine time. While this isn’t as important for those working remotely, workers who are fully boosted don’t have to quarantine after a COVID exposure according to the CDC.
Those that aren’t, however, are still advised to stick to the 5-day quarantine time frame. So, all of this means that boosters can lead to less illness and less time off work. There can also be lower health care costs associated with booster requirements.
There are also some drawbacks to requiring booster doses
That said, there’s still plenty of disinformation floating around out there. The CDC recommends boosters for everyone who is eligible to receive them. But there are plenty of people who don’t believe what the CDC says. This can be a challenge for adding boosters to your vaccination policy.
But, your job isn’t to keep all of your employees happy by making decisions that align with their individual beliefs. Your job in this sense is to keep your employees and your customers safe. Science is clear that boosters have an important role to play in keeping people safe from COVID.
Potential drawbacks beyond ideological beliefs
There are other drawbacks than just ideological beliefs, though. Many of the vaccination rules that federal and state governments set didn’t include booster doses. So, by requiring them, you’ll be going above and beyond the government.
It’s also not entirely clear whether or not employers can legally require the boosters, especially in certain states. This means that even if you require boosters, enforcing the rule is a whole other ballgame.
Speaking of enforcement, requiring boosters might just add fuel to the fire if you’re still trying to get your employees to get the original vaccine. Rather than extend your efforts to boosters, your time and effort could be best spent focusing on the original vaccination instead.
Finally, the politics and polarization around vaccines and boosters can feel relentless. It makes sense that some employers are simply too exhausted with the struggle to continue it. Tracking vaccinations and booster doses has also been extra work for employers that they may be ready to leave behind.
It comes down to communication with your staff
Whatever direction you choose to take, remember that communication plays an important role. If you decide to mandate boosters, be clear and transparent about your reasons for doing so. This can mean explaining the benefits, both the health and business benefits, of requiring booster doses.
If you decide against requiring boosters, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still encourage them. Offer opportunities for employees to get booster doses at work or pay for the time off it takes them to go get the shot elsewhere.
It’s also a good idea to give employees time off for any reactions they might have to the booster. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for your employees to get the booster if you want to encourage it rather than require it.
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Determine the best booster policy for your business
Whatever approach you take, the more communication the better. Try to have an open-door policy as well for any questions, comments, or concerns your employees might have about boosters.
As mentioned above, boosters are still political. This means that, whichever way you go, you’ll probably have people who are both happy and unhappy with your decision.
Give them space to air their grievances and answer any additional questions they might have. Explain your position and why you made the decision you did. The goal is to ensure that your employees know that their concerns are heard and considered.