Every Step Counts: Establishing and Tracking a COVID-19 Vaccination Effort

As COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue and a semblance of normalcy finally begins to return, many organizations may feel overwhelmed developing a vaccination plan and maintaining the proper records for their various populations. An organized vaccination policy is critical to maintaining the safety and well-being of your stakeholders as well as resuming operations to pre-COVID standards.

Human Resource Policies

An article from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) emphasizes the importance of arming management staff with the necessary knowledge on vaccinations as a key first step in creating an effective HR policy for the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, a recent article by CNA highlights some of the risks and legal concerns over mandating vaccinations for employee populations. “Employers should carefully weigh the risks and the benefits of mandatory vaccination policies and employer administered vaccines, and should be mindful of the federal, state and local employment laws that may be implicated in such policies. Even if an employer can mandate and provide COVID-19 vaccinations, the more important question may be whether an employer should do so.”

Management should be prepared to inform all of their stakeholder populations of the justification for any mandated or voluntary vaccine policies. They may include information on returning to the workplace, productivity levels, protecting workers and returning to normal operations.

Another important factor when it comes to establishing an effective HR policy is consistency. While some employees may opt-out of vaccinations for valid religious or health reasons, it is critically important that leadership and HR professionals treat all employees equally. Management should become familiar with employee accommodation requests and be prepared with alternate options if vaccination is not required.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there can be no sign of employee coercion. HR and management should be sure to document every step of a vaccination policy with employee sign-off to avoid potential litigation.

Offering Incentives

Incentives may be used to help to encourage various populations to get vaccinated without utilizing a mandatory vaccination policy. Employers that are currently giving these incentives to employees are offering benefits like cash, paid time off, funds for health savings accounts or extra vacation time. While incentives may be an effective method of encouraging mass vaccinations, there are several reasons to exercise caution when implementing these incentives. A study from SHRM states that 88 percent of employers are “unsure” about offering incentives to employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The reasoning behind this statistic is based, for the most part, on a lack of legal guidance available.

Some of the risks associated with incentives are highlighted in an article from CNA. One of the biggest points to consider when it comes to vaccine incentives is the need to provide reasonable accommodation to employees who refuse vaccinations. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a disabled employee is entitled to “enjoy the same equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by similarly situated employees without disabilities.” Incentive accommodations may include a training video to review CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 or frequent COVID-19 testing for non-vaccinated employees to receive incentives.

Employee Paid-Leave Tax Credit

Offering a paid leave incentive for certain COVID-19-related reasons could mean a significant tax credit for organizations with fewer than 500 employees. President Biden recently announced a new paid-leave tax credit to encourage widespread vaccinations. The tax credit covers up to $511 per day, per employee and is funded through an existing program under the American Rescue Plan.

Biden administration officials cited talks with businesses along with additional polling that showed employees would be highly persuaded to get vaccinated if their employers provided access to a shot.

Tracking your Vaccination Effort

Having a comprehensive system for monitoring vaccination status is critical to the business’s risk management efforts as well as its workers’ compensation program. It is important to note that vaccination records should be maintained in compliance with HIPAA regulations and not as part of the individual’s general employment records.

Tracking essential data such as the percentage of employees vaccinated, vaccination dates, and proof of vaccinations will also be necessary to receive benefits like the newly created paid-leave tax credit.

Data organizations should track during their vaccination efforts includes:

Tracking Tools Can Help

The need to thoroughly track vaccine data can quickly become daunting for leadership and HR staff. To ease the burden on staff and maintain accurate, HIPAA-compliant records, vaccine tracking services may be a solution to consider.

A new vaccination tracking solution from SISCO can help businesses track their vaccination efforts with the backing of a team of experts and a simplified, intuitive dashboard. Using a tracking program allows your organization to turn its data into actionable insights. Instead of filtering through multiple spreadsheets, you can quickly drill down to view your progress by division, facility, location or any custom field unique to your organization. This enables you to implement new programs and educational efforts as well as quickly pull records for any necessary reporting requirements (whether mandated or voluntary).

Additional Questions?

An effective vaccination effort includes well-thought-out policies, educational programs, consideration of targeted incentives and most importantly, a mechanism to measure the success of your program. Talk to a trusted SISCO advisor today for more on how to implement a successful vaccination effort for your organization.