(INDIANAPOLIS) – The FDA’s full approval of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is expected to nudge some people into finally getting the shot. It could also nudge some employers into requiring it.
Several Indiana hospitals and universities, including IU and Butler, had already announced vaccine requirements, even before the FDA announcement. On Tuesday, a day after the FDA decision, CVS Health pharmacies became the latest national chain to require employees to get vaccinated.
Indiana Chamber president Kevin Brinegar says some Hoosier employers are contemplating vaccine mandates. He says executives are frustrated at the pandemic’s economic damage and at the time they have to devote to COVID-19 instead of their core businesses. And increasingly, he says, that frustration is boiling over into anger at those they see as perpetuating the pandemic by refusing to get the vaccine.
Despite that anger, Brinegar says some businesses are reluctant to drop the hammer and order workers to get vaccinated. He says some companies have offered cash incentives for getting vaccinated, granted time off to get the shot or deal with next-day side effects, or hosted in-house clinics. He says those businesses did see an increase in vaccinations.
Brinegar says some employers are concerned that forcing workers to do something could hurt morale, or even prompt workers to quit, at a time when staff shortages are already creating problems.
But Brinegar says at least one local hospital which required vaccinations has found a lot of holdouts getting the shot as the deadline to do so approaches.
Employment law experts generally have said a vaccine mandate was legally allowable even under the vaccines’ emergency authorization, but the full approval appears to clear away any remaining gray area. Surveys indicate anywhere from 5% to 30% of the unvaccinated say they’ve been waiting for the FDA approval before taking the plunge.
Since July 1, unvaccinated Hoosiers have accounted for 82% of Indiana’s COVID-19 cases, 95% of hospitalizations and 86% of the deaths.