The Role of Business in COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

Ian MatthewsNews

Newly launched Health Action Alliance shares insights to help companies develop vaccination strategies. 

In the United States, President Biden has directed public health officials to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by no later than May 1, and the White House has called on the business community to “unleash the full force of the private sector” to supercharge the country’s COVID-19 recovery

Businesses can help by communicating about the safety and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines, making it easier for workers to get vaccinated when it’s their turn, and remaining vigilant about masking, social distancing and other prevention strategies as community immunity builds. 

This was the clear message from the National Business Summit on COVID-19 Vaccines, a virtual event hosted by the Health Action Alliance earlier this month.

“As business leaders and ambassadors for your diverse networks of employees and customers, you are critical both to setting the norm for COVID-19 prevention strategies and helping to foster a culture of confidence relating to the COVID-19 vaccines,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told the online audience representing more than 500 businesses operating in the U.S.

The Role of Business

Trusted voices are needed to change attitudes and encourage vaccinations. Recent polling suggests that CEOs and business leaders are among the most trusted sources of information about the pandemic, with the potential to impact employees, customers and communities where they operate. 

During the event, top executives offered best practice policies and communications strategies to help companies make it as easy as possible for their workers to get vaccinated when it’s their turn. This includes:

  • Offering paid time off for vaccine appointments, including the period after the second vaccination dose, which is often when some people may feel unwell.
  • Removing barriers to vaccination by offering transportation credits, child care and meal vouchers to workers who get vaccinated, or hosting on-site vaccination clinics at their place of business.
  • Communicating regularly with employees about vaccine developments, success stories, and updated information about the availability of vaccines.
  • Proactively engaging communities of color and other disproportionately impacted workforce populations that may have unique questions or concerns or may need extra help accessing vaccines.
  • Using a business’ core competencies to support community vaccination, such as Uber’s efforts to provide free or discounted rides to vaccination sites for those without easy access. 

When planning vaccination strategies, there are a range of factors that businesses can consider. Marin Gjaja, Partner, Boston Consulting Group, shared the three questions he receives most frequently from companies: 

  • Should we actively encourage vaccinations?
  • How do we track vaccination status?
  • Should we mandate employees to have vaccinations?

Forging strategic partnerships is another way for businesses to fight COVID-19. “We see an opportunity for business to continue to pivot and collaborate,” said Kirsty Graham, CEO of Edelman Public Affairs and Chair of Edelman Health. She said the “incredible partnerships” that came as a result of the pandemic need to be continued, and that “collaboration across government [and] private sector is utterly critical.”

Empathy & Access 

Another key topic addressed during the Summit was the issue of equitable access to vaccines. By including employee input into vaccination strategies, and making equity an explicit priority, companies can help to promote employee buy-in and vaccine uptake. 

It’s not enough for employers to simply provide the facts about vaccines. Each individual is on a personal journey in their understanding of vaccines and in fighting the influence of misinformation. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to encouraging vaccination, and empathy is vital.

Respected employees within companies often have a great deal of influence and can be a conduit to help raise vaccine confidence within the workforce, if provided with the right resources and information. 

Helpful Resources for Interested Companies

GBCHealth encourages companies to access the Alliance’s resources for businesses here. See a sample of other companies who have already joined the Alliance here.

For companies who want to learn more, you can also find the different panels from the National Business Summit on COVID-19 Vaccines at this link. 

Info about Health Action Alliance’s recent and upcoming events is also available here.

GBCHealth is proud to work with the Health Action Alliance to help companies develop vaccine strategies to promote vaccine confidence and help address misinformation.

“During the National Business Summit on COVID-19 Vaccines, we heard the important role that businesses can play in COVID-19 vaccine efforts. With the right strategies, incentives and support for employees, business can have a significant impact in helping to end the pandemic,” said Lesley-Anne Long, President & CEO, GBCHealth. 

“The Health Action Alliance was created to help the business community turn the tide against COVID-19 and create a stronger, healthier future for everyone in America,” said Stephen Massey, Health Action Alliance Director. “We’re thrilled to partner with GBCHealth to share our free tools, resources and events with the global business community, and to help cultivate a strong international network of like-minded companies committed to improving the health of employees, customers and communities.”

About Health Action Alliance 

The Health Action Alliance is a joint initiative of the Ad Council, the Business Roundtable, the CDC Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – in partnership with Meteorite. The Alliance works to strengthen and accelerate the U.S. business community’s response to COVID-19, advance health equity and strengthen public health. 

Ian MatthewsThe Role of Business in COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts