COVID-19

How workplaces could help distribute the vaccine

Kristin Schwab Dec 2, 2020
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
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
Heard on:
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

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Read More

Collapse

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.