Following FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, an increasing number of employers are enacting vaccine mandates, a trend that President Joe Biden on Monday urged businesses and government leaders to follow.
On Monday, Biden said that more than 170 million Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, while another 30 million have gotten at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine.
"If you're one of the millions of Americans who said that they will not get the shot until it has full and final approval of FDA: It has now happened," he said. "The moment you've been waiting for is here."
Biden also called on businesses and public leaders to begin enacting vaccine mandates for their employees.
"I'm calling on more companies in the private sector to step up with vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people," Biden said. "If you're a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader, who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that—require it. It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of Covid-19."
Biden's call comes as many employers have already announced vaccine mandates for their employees, even before FDA issued its approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Microsoft, Tyson Foods, Walt Disney, United Airlines, and Netflix, among others, announced vaccine mandates late last month or earlier this month. And following FDA's approval, more employers, including Chevron, the Pentagon, New York City schools, the University of Minnesota, and CVS Health, announced vaccine mandates.
"What we've seen is employers don't want to be the first in their industry but certainly, as other comparable companies begin to mandate the vaccine, they feel comfortable as well mandating it for their workers," Devjani Mishra, a leader on the Covid-19 task force at the law firm Littler, said.
According to a survey Littler conducted of more than 1,600 in-house lawyers, C-suite executives, and human resources professionals, around 12% of employers are planning to impose some sort of vaccine mandate.
"Many employers, even though they could've implemented a vaccine mandate pre-FDA approval, have been waiting for full FDA approval because they believe their employees will be more receptive to a vaccine mandate," Michelle Strowhiro, a lawyer at McDermott Will & Emery, said.
"What employers are trying to balance right now is implementing the right safety standards for their workforce while also being cognizant of the fact that the labor market is so difficult and many employers are already struggling with having the right number of people on staff," she added.
Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the White House, said if the "overwhelming majority" of the public gets vaccinated, the United States could have Covid-19 under control by spring 2022.
"We hope we'll be there … but there's no guarantee because it's up to us," he said.
Fauci added that it's not entirely clear what proportion of the public needs to be vaccinated in order to contain the virus to a point where a return to normalcy could happen, so the best thing to do for now is get as many people vaccinated as possible.
One challenge is that vaccines still aren't authorized for children under the age of 12. Fauci said. However, he added that enough data could be available by mid-fall to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in younger populations, and soon thereafter for Moderna's vaccine.
Then, FDA will analyze the data and make a risk-benefit analysis, Fauci said.
"That could be a couple of extra months, so we don't know whether or not we're going to get the regulatory decision by the late fall, early winter or it might even go into the following year," he said.
"I don't think there's going to be any question that this is going to be effective in the children at that younger age. I have no doubt about that," Fauci added. "It's going to be a safety issue." (Owermohle, Politico, 8/23; Reed, Axios, 8/24; Cooney, "Morning Rounds," STAT News, 8/24; Evers-Hillstrom, The Hill, 8/23; Pandey, Axios, 8/17; Holcombe, CNN, 8/24)
Across the country, health care employers are facing a pressing question: How do you increase the number of staff vaccinated against Covid-19? Advisory Board's Miriam Sznycer-Taub, Lauren Woodrow, and Heather Bell spoke with Kimberly Daniel, partner at the health care law firm Hancock, Daniel & Johnson, P.C about the implications of mandating Covid-19 vaccines for your employees.
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