CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus US: what American companies require their employees to be vaccinated?

As the delta variant continues to spread, some private companies like Walmart, Netflix, and Google are mandating vaccinations for their staff.

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Coronavirus US: what American companies require their employees to be vaccinated?
SPENCER PLATT AFP

The United States is experiencing the largest spike in cases of covid-19 since last December.

With all residents over twelve eligible for vaccination, the government and private sector are weighing their options as to how they can prevent infections in the spaces they control.

Late last week, President Biden implemented a federal vaccine mandate for government workers and contractors, and many businesses are following his lead.

However,  the high levels of vaccine hesitancy could jeopardize the economic recovery and worsen an already vulnerable health situation in the United States.

Unvaccinated workers are still at a high risk of suffering long-term or fatal consequences from the virus.

Those vaccianted are getting sick at much higher rates from the delta variant than other strains that were less effective at infecting those who had received their shots. 

As more information is released on the delta variant, some companies are opting to require vaccines for all or some of their staff.

Which private companies are mandating vaccinations?

Companies across various industries have announced vaccine mandates for staff, including, Disney Goldman Sachs, Google, Netflix, United Airlines, Walmart, the Washington Post.

Netflix

In July, major Hollywood unions agreed that studios could mandate that “Zone A” employees be vaccinated as a part of the return to work policies. Zone A employees include actors and those who come into close contact with them.

Deadline, an online news outlet, has reported that Netflix is the first Hollywood studio to mandate that all those onsets in the US be vaccianted. While Netflix is the first to make the move but is unlikely to be the last. After more than a year of pandemic-related delays, many studios would like to prevent production setbacks due to outbreaks on set.

Walmart

With more than 1.6 million employees, Walmart is the largest employer in the United States.

On Friday, 30 July, the organization announced that staff minus those who work in warehouses and physical stores would be required to receive a vaccine.

While an important step for the company, the vast majority of the company’s workers are not covered under the mandate. Store and warehouse employees are not required to get vaccinated but can receive a $150 bonus by showing proof of vaccination.

Religious and medical exceptions will be permitted, and for those that receive them, Walmart has said they “must follow all social distancing standards, wear a mask while working, and receive weekly Covid-19 testing provided by Walmart.”


Washington Post

The Washington Post was one of the first companies to make vaccination mandatory as a condition of employment. The organization is expecting to open up its newsroom in September and will require employees to get their shots before returning to the office. 

Those with medical and religious exceptions will be allowed to remain unvaccinated so long as they can provide documentation and are tested regularly.

Some unions representing public workers, including teachers, firefighters, and other first responders, have come out against the mandates, which Opinion writers at the Post said jeopardized “public health, the safety of their members and, ultimately, their own political influence.”

Federal Vaccine Mandate

Last Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first US government agency to mandate vaccinations. The VA is one of the largest providers of medical care in the US. VA Leaders believed that mandating vaccines for health care workers interacting with patients was critical to ensuring a safe environment for all those who receive care through the agency.

Later that week, President Biden announced that all federal employees and contractors would be required to show proof of vaccination or undergo testing for covid-19 weekly.

This mandate covers government entities like the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Indian Health Service who were considering a similar requirement to that of the VA because their employees also interact with vulnerable populations.

This news also came after the CDC had reverted back to its original stance on masks, saying that they should be worn inside if community transmission is high or people are living or visiting places with low vaccination rates.

For the general public, the White House has been reluctant to mandate vaccinations. This could stem from fears of a popular backlash more than a year out from the Mid-Term elections. However, as the epidemiological situation worsens in the United States, more dramatic actions like a mandate or lockdowns may have to be implemented.