Workplace Vaccination Program
By providing information about COVID-19 vaccination and establishing supportive policies and equitable practices, employers can help increase vaccine uptake among workers. Employers should share clear, complete, and accurate messages, promote confidence in the decision to get vaccinated, and engage employees in plans to address potential barriers to vaccination. The information presented below explains the benefits of employee vaccination and can help employers implement employee vaccination either at the workplace or in the community.
Potential benefits to employers:
Potential benefits to employees:
Potential benefits to employers:
- Keep the workforce healthy by preventing employees from getting COVID-19
- Help protect clients, customers, and visitors from COVID-19 illness
- Reduce absences due to COVID-19 illness
- Improve productivity
- Improve morale, build trust, and be responsive of your employees needs and cultural norms
Potential benefits to employees:
- Prevent COVID-19 illness and long-term complications
- Reduce absences and doctor visits due to COVID-19 illness
- Help protect family and household members from COVID-19 illness
- Improve morale
Resources are available to help employers. The National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine has shared a variety of materials and resources to help provide COVID-19 vaccine equitably, effectively, and quickly to as many people as possible in communities across the country.
Assess options for vaccinating your workforce. Options include:
- On site at the workplace
- Existing occupational health clinics
- Employer-run temporary vaccination clinics
- Mobile vaccination clinics brought to the workplace
- Hosting a local health department or pharmacy vaccination clinic
- Off site in the community
- Mobile/temporary vaccination clinics set up at community locations (closed or open to the public)
- Pharmacies enrolled in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program
- Hospitals and healthcare provider offices
- Federally qualified health centers and other community clinics
Consider an on-site workplace vaccination program if you have:
- A large number of workers on site with predictable schedules
- A large number of workers who are not vaccinated
- Workers with limited access to vaccination services, live in under-resourced communities, or experience disadvantage
- The ability to enroll with your jurisdiction’s immunization program as a vaccination provider, including appropriately trained staff, or to engage an enrolled vaccination provider
- A location with enough space to stand up a vaccination clinic while maintaining physical distancing through the entire process, from screening to post-vaccination observation. See CDC’s guidance for temporary vaccination clinics for more detail.
Consider off site vaccination if you:
- Are a small- or medium-sized organization that does not have the resources to host a vaccination clinic
- Have a large number of workers who have already been vaccinated
- Have mobile worker populations that frequently move from one job site to the next
- Have workers with highly variable schedules
- Have a majority of workers who would prefer vaccination in a community clinic rather than an employer-run clinic
Vaccine confidence is the trust that employers, employees, their families, and healthcare providers have in:
- Recommended vaccines
- Providers who administer vaccines
- Processes and policies that lead to vaccine development, licensure or authorization, manufacturing, and recommendations for use
Build vaccine confidence by making confidence visible in your workplace. Follow these steps:
- Discuss the vaccination policies with labor and management representatives. Use organizational leaders as role models and identify employees at any level in your workplace to be vaccine champions. These role models and champions should reflect the diversity of the workforce, especially those disproportionately impacted. Invite the leaders and champions to share their personal reasons for getting vaccinated and remind employees why it’s important to be vaccinated.
- Communicate transparently to all employees about vaccination. See Key Things to Know, Frequently Asked Questions, and Myths and Facts for up-to-date information.
- Create a communication plan. Share key messages with employees through breakroom posters, emails, and other channels. Emphasize the benefits of protecting themselves, their families, co-workers, and community. This fact sheet is available in numerous languages.
- Provide regular updates on topics like the benefits, safety, side effects and effectiveness of vaccination; clearly communicate what is and is not known.
- Host physician or trusted provider Q&A sessions, especially inviting doctors or public health experts who reflect the race/ethnicity or cultural identity of the workforce. Your local health department may be able to provide a community health worker or promotora to visit your workplace and talk to your employees.
- Make visible the decision to get vaccinated and celebrate it! Provide stickers for employees to wear after vaccination and encourage them to post selfies on social media.
- Identify and foster partnerships with local public health departments or any other community or health-based organization to promote vaccination.
CDC created the Workplaces and Businesses web page to help employers protect their employees with a variety of tools, including vaccination. The web page includes information on COVID-19 vaccines, post-vaccination considerations for workplaces, and information on other preventive measures.
Incentives and Benefits for Vaccinated Workers
Based on limited evidence, guaranteed gift incentives seem to be the most effective financial incentive to vaccine uptake. Approaches that workplaces have used include:
- Cash bonuses
- Paid time off or vacation days
- Gift cards
- Free products, such as vaccination card holders, food, or other gifts
- Coupons for the workplace cafeteria
- Examples available in 12 COVID-19 Vaccination Strategies for Your Community
Incentives can also be used to reinforce the message that high vaccine uptake is a collective effort, not just an individual one. Consideration could be given to offering incentives to all employees once the workplace vaccination rate exceeds a specific goal (e.g., 90%). This will help to avoid concerns about unequal treatment of those not vaccinated due to medical or religious exemptions and avoid tension between those who were vaccinated prior to workplace incentives and those who are vaccinated and receive the incentive.
Whether vaccination is at the workplace or in the community, employers should:
- Allow time for vaccine confidence to grow. Employees who are hesitant at first may become more confident after seeing coworkers get vaccinated.
- Ask organizations and individuals who are respected in employee communities to help you build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.
- Offer flexible, non-punitive sick leave options (e.g., paid sick leave) for employees experiencing symptoms after vaccination. Please see post-vaccination considerations for workplaces for further information.
- The planning process for hosting a workplace COVID-19 vaccination program should include input from management, human resources, employees, and labor representatives, if present.
- Employers considering implementing a workplace COVID-19 vaccination program should contact the health department in their jurisdiction for guidance.
- Employers may want to engage a community vaccination provider/vendor. These providers typically deliver worksite flu vaccination services and have expanded to provide COVID-19 vaccination. They have trained nursing staff available in all jurisdictions, can bill insurance for administration fees, and can report vaccine administration data to immunization registries.
- Employers with an on-site clinic should offer more than one opportunity for vaccination. Mobile clinics can return to a worksite multiple times on a rotating schedule.
- Vaccination providers must prepare to monitor for and manage potential adverse events after vaccination such as anaphylaxis.
- Workplace vaccination clinics must offer vaccination at no charge and during work hours. Employees who get vaccinated should be provided with a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card. Ensure enough time is included for recovery and post-vaccination monitoring.
- Provide easy access to vaccination for all people at the workplace, regardless of their status as a contractor or temporary employee.
- See the National Institute of Health’s Key Elements of a Model Workplace Safety and Health COVID-19 Vaccination Programexternal icon.
If hosting a vaccination clinic at your workplace is not possible, consider other steps to encourage vaccination, listed below:
- Allow employees to get vaccinated during work hours or take paid leave to get vaccinated at a community site. Ensure that enough time for recovery and post-vaccination monitoring is included.
- Support transportation to off-site vaccination clinics, such as paying fares for taxis or ridesharing services and ensuring employees can maintain physical distancing during travel. Check with your local health department(s) about potential assistance, such as a mobile clinic or transportation support.
- Post articles in company communications (e.g., newsletters, intranet, emails, portals) about the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, as well as how and where to get the vaccine in the community.
- Educate and help employees make their appointments for vaccination through available channels.
- Make sure employees know COVID-19 vaccination is provided free of charge. They should not be asked to pay any fee, including a vaccine administration fee, and cannot be denied vaccination if they do not have insurance coverage. Providers may bill their insurance plan or program for the administration fee if they have insurance.
- Identify other potential barriers unique to your workforce and implement policies and practices to address them.
Vaccinations for Contractors and Temporary Employees
For workers employed by contract firms or temporary help agencies, the staffing agency and the host employer are joint employers and, therefore, both are responsible for providing and maintaining a safe work environment. The extent of the responsibilities the staffing agency and the host employer have will vary, depending on the workplace conditions, and should be described in their contract (Protecting Temporary Workerspdf icon). An emphasis should be made among those whose native language is not English, to ensure that they understand how vaccination benefits them as well.
If you plan to offer vaccination at your workplace, consider providing vaccination to all people working at the workplace, regardless of their status as a contractor or temporary employee. What is most important is to encourage everyone at the worksite to be vaccinated, no matter what their work arrangement is. If you do not plan to or are unable to offer on-site vaccination, consider providing information to those at the workplace about how to explore options for vaccination in the community.
Adverse Event Reporting
CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects (called “adverse events”) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Systemexternal icon. Employers should also encourage employees to enroll in a new smartphone-based tool called “v-safe.” CDC is implementing v-safe to check in on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When employees get vaccinated, they should also receive a v-safe information sheet telling them how to enroll in v-safe. If they enroll, they will receive regular text messages directing them to surveys where they can report any problems or adverse reactions after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC also provides recommendations for people who have had allergic reactions to other vaccines and for those with other types of allergies.
An employer may require that their employees be vaccinated. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has established that employers—including healthcare providers when acting solely in their role as employers—may ask an employee about vaccination status without violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)external icon. There may be exceptions to this; an employee health clinic may, for instance, become an entity covered by HIPAA if engaged in certain transactions. Facilities should consult with legal professionals about adherence to HIPAA rules.
If an employer requires employees to provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the employer cannot mandate that the employee provide any medical information as part of the proof. However, employees can choose to provide medical information to their employer.
Two types of exemptions can be implemented:
- Medical exemptions
Some people may be at risk for an adverse reaction because of an allergy to one of the vaccine components or a medical condition. This is referred to as a medical exemption.
- Religious exemptions
Some people may decline vaccination because of a sincerely held religious belief. This is referred to as a religious exemption.
Employers offering vaccination to workers should keep a record of the offer to vaccinate and the employee’s decision to accept or decline vaccinationexternal icon.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides guidance on mandatory vaccination against COVID-19external icon and types of exemptions from mandates.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standardexternal icon applies to all employers with 100+ employees and requires all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested on a weekly basis and to have a negative test before coming to work. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Interim Final Rule COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccinationexternal icon requires all staff in facilities that are certified by Medicare and Medicaid to be vaccinated against COVID-19. More information on acceptable proof of vaccination, reasonable accommodation, and phased implementation can be found at the above references.
After employees are fully vaccinated, they may be able to start doing some things they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. However, in work settings, even after employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine, they may still need to take steps to protect themselves and others in many situations. Employers should continue to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s guidance, Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplaceexternal icon.
- 12 COVID-19 Vaccination Strategies for Your Community | CDC
- How to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation | CDC
- Post-vaccination Considerations for Workplaces | CDC
- Talking to Recipients about COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC
- Quick Start Guide to Vaccinating Workers | CDC
- Working with Small Businesses to Get COVID-19 Vaccinations for Essential Workers | CDC
- COVID-19 Vaccination for Rural and Remote Essential Workers | CDC
- COVID-19 Vaccination for Essential Temporary Workers | CDC
- Health Equity | COVID-19 | CDC
- CDC A Guide for Community Partners-Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Communitiespdf icon
- COVID-19 Vaccination & the Food and Agriculture Sector | FDAexternal icon