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COVID-19

How workplaces could help distribute the vaccine

Kristin Schwab Dec 2, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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A sign reflects the widespread interest in being protected from the coronavirus. Workplace vaccinations could bring protection to more people. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

How workplaces could help distribute the vaccine

Kristin Schwab Dec 2, 2020
A sign reflects the widespread interest in being protected from the coronavirus. Workplace vaccinations could bring protection to more people. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

It’s going to take a lot of coordination to get the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone. Doctors’ offices and pharmacies are obvious sites for distribution. Some experts are hoping workplaces will be added to the list.

Employer-sponsored vaccine programs could work like the flu-shot days many companies host every fall, when the boss brings the vaccine to you. These programs are effective because they increase convenience.

“It turns out that we’re really bad at following through on our intentions,” said Katy Milkman, who researches economics and health behavior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “And that’s going to be, I think, one of the biggest challenges related to this vaccine.”

Vaccines at work would also help establish trust.

“Often they give stickers that say, ‘Hey, I got vaccinated,’ ” said Dan Salmon, who directs the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. “So that’s helping to create social norms, and social norms are really very important.”

The COVID-19 vaccine could be given at places like offices, malls and universities. But that would come with challenges. For instance, the Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at 94 below zero Fahrenheit — a bit colder than the break-room freezer.

“Plus it’s two doses, so they’d have to come back for the second dose. So it really would take a lot of planning,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers.

Hannan said by the time we reach mass distribution, there may be versions of the vaccine that are easier to store and administer. “So hopefully, there will be better options than trying to lug an ultracold freezer into the workplace.”

Hannan thinks that if employer-sponsored vaccinations do happen, they’ll become so popular that the biggest hurdle won’t be these logistics, but finding enough health care professionals to keep up with demand.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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