Anyone who knows me or interacts with me regularly knows that COVID-19 vaccines are weighing heavily on my mind. I got the shot over a month ago and I’ve been on a crusade ever since to help others do the same. The vaccines are the most important tools we have to reduce the spread of COVID, and we have access to three that are highly effective.
What’s troubling is at the time this column was written, only 28 percent of Genesee County residents are fully vaccinated, lagging the state’s 37 percent. That is a start, but we clearly have a long way to go.
While most people are now eligible to be vaccinated – ages 16 and older – some clinics are reporting that demand has slowed for a variety of reasons, known only to those people who are undecided or have decided not to be vaccinated. However, to keep driving business and economic recovery forward, we must rally together to support those who are hesitant.
Public health organizations and governments are leading the charge in communicating the importance of COVID-19 vaccines. The business community also has a significant role to play, especially in building trust and confidence. Those of us that are employers, have an opportunity to help educate and provide guidance to our people on the role vaccinations play in their health and their families’ and re-starting the economy.
Research shows employees appreciate the support from their employers and all actions/initiatives that your organization takes, matters. If you are struggling with how to take this on, here are a few suggestions from businesses that have had some success:
• Senior leadership provides transparency about their vaccinations and creates an environment where COVID-19 vaccinations are supported.
• Regularly share information and resources to educate your workforce. (Eligibility, safety, why it is necessary, effectiveness, implications for those who are not vaccinated, etc.)
• Encourage employees to share vaccination stories and why they decided to get vaccinated. We are all moved by real-life stories, and understanding that others may have hesitated but decided to move forward can make a difference.
• Host town halls and/or invite experts in to answer questions and provide insights.
• Offer to book appointments for your employees.
• If feasible, offer vaccinations on-site.
• Cover transportation costs or offer free rides to a vaccination clinic.
• Offer paid time off for vaccines and recovery period.
• Offer incentives.
At the Flint & Genesee Group, we are working closely with our staff to ensure that everyone can receive a vaccine if they want to; that they have the information they need to make informed decisions, and the comfort that comes from knowing their co-workers care about their wellbeing.
We are keeping the lines of communication open and listening to our employees. In fact, we are doing everything we can to show our conviction, making it convenient to get vaccinated and reducing any associated costs, where possible.
Getting a shot in the arm – or two shots in most cases – is our best route to returning to normalcy.