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Anti-Vaxxers? How do you handle?


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I know there are many business managers and owners here.  So, how do you plan to deal with the employee anti-vaxxers and folks who are choosing not to get the vaccine?  I hadn't really considered it, and I have to admit I'm a little surprised by the undercurrent (seemingly the minority) that are taking this stance. Do you plan to educate? Force the issue? Look the other way? Not worry about it? 

My team have been absolute rock stars through this thing in terms of masking, social distancing, sanitizing, etc. and consequently we have had very few infections.  But, I'm now hearing rumblings from a few not wanting to get vaccinated and frankly it has caught me off guard.

How to handle?

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I guess it goes without saying this is a red hot topic for companies large and small across the country right now.  My advice - assuming you don’t have an urgency that requires action - is to keep doing what you’re doing, be patient and let the situation develop for another month or so, then revisit. This is a fast-moving train, the science seems uncertain and the guidance from authorities is at times inconsistent and even contradictory. In this situation, I would rather be a follower than a leader.  The last thing you want to do is lay down a company policy, then have to backtrack or make adjustments to deal with the inevitable unforeseen circumstances. 

 

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We are not allowing anyone back in the office without a vaccine. But we also think some will use that to do permanent work from home when our intention was to make it rotating. Predicting there will be game playing going on for those with longer commutes. May just have to adapt and accommodate. 

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NY mandated that employers pay up to four hours of time for vaccination.

My guys who refused the vax in January because of their status as volunteer firefighters are now taking shots left and right.

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26 minutes ago, Judge Smails said:

We are not allowing anyone back in the office without a vaccine. But we also think some will use that to do permanent work from home when our intention was to make it rotating. Predicting there will be game playing going on for those with longer commutes. May just have to adapt and accommodate. 

So you could theoretically get vaccinated, say you didn't and get to permanently wfh?   I know I'll be keeping my vaccination status to myself to see how this all plays out.  I've come to really enjoy WFH.

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Being told 4Q will look at things for return.  They can't push the shot on people and don't want to get sued if it turns people in to a zombie or something. 

Edited by culdeus
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7 minutes ago, NutterButter said:

So you could theoretically get vaccinated, say you didn't and get to permanently wfh?   I know I'll be keeping my vaccination status to myself to see how this all plays out.  I've come to really enjoy WFH.

Yes. This is our fear 

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47 minutes ago, NutterButter said:

So you could theoretically get vaccinated, say you didn't and get to permanently wfh?   I know I'll be keeping my vaccination status to myself to see how this all plays out.  I've come to really enjoy WFH.

My mother’s friend has a daughter who gets paid to sit at home because she’s scared to go back to work. She has openly stated she will never go back to work because she doesn’t have to. 

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4 minutes ago, STEADYMOBBIN 22 said:

My mother’s friend has a daughter who gets paid to sit at home because she’s scared to go back to work. She has openly stated she will never go back to work because she doesn’t have to. 

I dont understand these claims. If she’s not productive, why is she still employed? This has nothing to do with WFH or the vaccine. I guess the exception would be an employment situation where it is impossible to track productivity. Otherwise, that’s on the employer IMO.  

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3 hours ago, Sea Duck said:

I think that the solution will be to make masks optional for those who get vaccinated. That will create some incentive for the anti-vax types.

The inverse of this. Makes masks mandatory if you’re not vaccinated. That’s been my hospital’s policy for the flu shot for years. Yes, it’s optional, but if you decline the flu vaccine, you wear a mask from October to March. Obviously, 6 months now is very different from 6 months pre-covid, but if your employees see vaccinated people walking around mask free, it may incentivize them to stop being dumbasses.

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Individual choice.  The business I’m in the upper management of is in the service industry as well.  There’s been zero discussion about requiring it.  We don’t feel it’s our place to intervene in someone’s personal choice.  

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3 hours ago, Tecumseh said:

The inverse of this. Makes masks mandatory if you’re not vaccinated. That’s been my hospital’s policy for the flu shot for years. Yes, it’s optional, but if you decline the flu vaccine, you wear a mask from October to March. Obviously, 6 months now is very different from 6 months pre-covid, but if your employees see vaccinated people walking around mask free, it may incentivize them to stop being dumbasses.

I don't mind this as a matter of principle, but the last thing I want to do during my workday is go around playing vaccine police / mask police with grown adults who are supposed to know better.  I can see where this would work in settings where you already have a reason to track seasonal flu vaccination and an accepted infrastructure in place to support this kind of policy, but that's probably like 1% of the workplaces represented in this forum.

IMO Cletius nailed it right off the bat -- it's probably best to sit tight for now and hope this problem sorts itself out before you as a manager have to step in and find a solution.  

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8 hours ago, Gawain said:

NY mandated that employers pay up to four hours of time for vaccination.

My guys who refused the vax in January because of their status as volunteer firefighters are now taking shots left and right.

This. Incentivize. I’m giving everyone a full day of PTO. 

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The anti-vaxxers at my company are the upper management.  :oldunsure:  Then our largest client came out with new guidelines for being on their property including "strongly suggesting" getting the vaccination.  Now some in upper management are saying they will get it if "forced" by that client or needing it for international travel.  

We have one other employee that isn't anti as much as a worrier and wants to wait to see how it affects others.

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10 hours ago, Judge Smails said:

We are not allowing anyone back in the office without a vaccine. But we also think some will use that to do permanent work from home when our intention was to make it rotating. Predicting there will be game playing going on for those with longer commutes. May just have to adapt and accommodate. 

Just was talking about this with our COO (my former boss).  My company isn’t going to mandate vaccination as part of a return to the office.  I told him I’m not coming back to the office until either a) the company makes it a return-to-office condition for all employees, or b) we reach herd immunity.  He was genuinely surprised that vaccinated people wouldn’t return because of the presence of unvaccinated folks.

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4 hours ago, dkp993 said:

Individual choice.  The business I’m in the upper management of is in the service industry as well.  There’s been zero discussion about requiring it.  We don’t feel it’s our place to intervene in someone’s personal choice.  

That’s irrational in a pandemic

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10 hours ago, Dezbelief said:

With the vaccines being under emergency use authorization I don't think you can be too aggressive on the subject. 

Right.

When the military can't order all Soldiers to get the vax, it's a pet y good sign that businesses might not want to mandate it either. 

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7 minutes ago, -OZ- said:

Right.

When the military can't order all Soldiers to get the vax, it's a pet y good sign that businesses might not want to mandate it either. 

There are also real legal issues with mandating it - including ADA considerations. 

I have a monthly breakfast group and we brought in an employment lawyer to talk about it. I won't go through all the details, but basically I came away thinking that requiring the vaccine was fraught with legal issues. And eventually what companies will do is bring in a nurse to give out the vaccine to whoever wants it and then strongly encourage it.

Maybe a (former) employment lawyer like bb or someone can explain it better.

Edited by whoknew
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10 hours ago, Judge Smails said:

We are not allowing anyone back in the office without a vaccine. But we also think some will use that to do permanent work from home when our intention was to make it rotating. Predicting there will be game playing going on for those with longer commutes. May just have to adapt and accommodate. 

Id never tell you I had the vaccine if that was the case. "Punish" the responsible ones.

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14 minutes ago, whoknew said:

There are also real legal issues with mandating it - including ADA considerations. 

I have a monthly breakfast group and we brought in an employment lawyer to talk about it. I won't go through all the details, but basically I came away thinking that requiring the vaccine was fraught with legal issues. And eventually what companies will do is bring in a nurse to give out the vaccine to whoever wants it and then strongly encourage it.

Maybe a (former) employment lawyer like bb or someone can explain it better.

Requiring vaccination as a condition of employment is different than requiring it as a condition to return physically in person.  At least for people in jobs where virtual work has proven to be effective.

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1 hour ago, Alex P Keaton said:

Just was talking about this with our COO (my former boss).  My company isn’t going to mandate vaccination as part of a return to the office.  I told him I’m not coming back to the office until either a) the company makes it a return-to-office condition for all employees, or b) we reach herd immunity.  He was genuinely surprised that vaccinated people wouldn’t return because of the presence of unvaccinated folks.

He's right.

What you're describing is exactly the problem that I expect to have to deal with in the fall -- vaccinated faculty who are irrationally afraid of being in a classroom with students who may or may not have been vaccinated.  I'd rather face this problem than have to deal with a bunch of anti-vaxxers, but it's going to be a headache and I'm not looking forward to it.

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1 minute ago, IvanKaramazov said:

He's right.

What you're describing is exactly the problem that I expect to have to deal with in the fall -- vaccinated faculty who are irrationally afraid of being in a classroom with students who may or may not have been vaccinated.  I'd rather face this problem than have to deal with a bunch of anti-vaxxers, but it's going to be a headache and I'm not looking forward to it.

I’m not afraid of being around unvaccinated people.  There is a reason the concept of herd immunity exists.  We shouldn’t have mass amounts of unvaccinated people living life normally until we reach herd immunity.  

Edited by Alex P Keaton
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Just now, IvanKaramazov said:

He's right.

What you're describing is exactly the problem that I expect to have to deal with in the fall -- vaccinated faculty who are irrationally afraid of being in a classroom with students who may or may not have been vaccinated.  I'd rather face this problem than have to deal with a bunch of anti-vaxxers, but it's going to be a headache and I'm not looking forward to it.

This whole thing is a headache.  We're not enjoying it right now. (And we're mostly WFH currently)

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1 minute ago, Alex P Keaton said:

I’m not afraid of being around unvaccinated people.  There is a reason the concept of herd immunity exists.

Sure. But the scientists aren't even clear as to when we'll reach herd immunity here. Or if vaccinated people can spread it, or if we'll need boosters (I think the current belief is we will)

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7 minutes ago, -OZ- said:

Sure. But the scientists aren't even clear as to when we'll reach herd immunity here. Or if vaccinated people can spread it, or if we'll need boosters (I think the current belief is we will)

Which is why many people aren't rushing to get the vaccine.  There isn't enough consensus or information regarding long term effects.  Just because someone isn't rushing to get the vaccine or doesn't want to be forced into getting something that was rushed to market doesn't mean they are anti-vaxxers either.  I am all for vaccinations but I have reservations about getting something that was rushed to market without any knowledge about long term affects and that didn't go through full research protocols.  

 

Trying to mandate employees to get the vaccination is going to be a hard sell when the military & federal government isn't mandating their employees to get the vaccine due to the emergency approval status (not full approval status).  This may change if/when the vaccine gets full approval status but until then I doubt it is wise (legally) to force employees to get the vaccination. 

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12 minutes ago, -OZ- said:

Sure. But the scientists aren't even clear as to when we'll reach herd immunity here. Or if vaccinated people can spread it, or if we'll need boosters (I think the current belief is we will)

Well, we aren’t there at 15% fully vaccinated.  Yes, there is a less than certain range of estimates.   70-85% is a decent ballpark.   Hopefully we get there quickly.

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Not sure how much time and energy you want to devote to managing immunity status/duration of people who had Covid or got vaccinated. Do people want to display something that indicates when they had covid or got vaccinated and when their specific immunity expires? Carry a card? I don't. 

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Are employers allowed to ask the vaccination status of employees?  I was on the phone with a business that I used to frequent often pre-pandemic.   I asked about the vaccination status of their employees and they said due to HIPPA, they're not allowed to ask. 

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My office took the surprisingly strong position of requiring everybody get the vaccine by a certain date unless an employee presented a legitimate health or religious reason for not getting vaccinated. I was initially surprised and skeptical of the policy out of fear of liability should something bad happen or an employee quit and file a complaint. However, after researching the issue, it does appear that we can legally do this* (again, provided we take seriously objections due to a medical and/or religious reason) so I'm a bit more at ease and coming around on the policy to the point that I think I'm now slightly in favor where I started out slightly opposed. That said, now that I'm personally fully vaccinated I'm not as concerned as what others are doing and would just prefer that we continue to work collectively together so masks aren't required in as many places as they currently are. 

If I were in charge (I'm glad I'm not for this issue) I think what I'd do is not explicitly state vaccinations are mandatory but constructively require them by putting policies in place to incentivize getting the vaccine. For example, I'd limit or preclude an employee abstaining from the vaccination from being in all or parts of the office, I'd require them to wear masks but not people who are vaccinated, I'd preclude unvaccinated employees from attending functions or get togethers, if permissible I'd limit or preclude unvaccinated employers from getting overtime pay, etc. 

 

* This should not be considered legal advice as I have almost no background in employment law. You should speak to an employment law attorney in your jurisidction should you have questions about whether you can or should require the vaccine due to possible legal implications. 

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30 minutes ago, brun said:

Not sure how much time and energy you want to devote to managing immunity status/duration of people who had Covid or got vaccinated. Do people want to display something that indicates when they had covid or got vaccinated and when their specific immunity expires? Carry a card? I don't. 

My office required we present a photo of the vaccination card (I believe all of us getting the vaccine get them). Took about 15 seconds for me to screenshot it and email it. I've now laminated it as I anticipate it being necessary for international travel. 

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1 hour ago, Alex P Keaton said:

Just was talking about this with our COO (my former boss).  My company isn’t going to mandate vaccination as part of a return to the office.  I told him I’m not coming back to the office until either a) the company makes it a return-to-office condition for all employees, or b) we reach herd immunity.  He was genuinely surprised that vaccinated people wouldn’t return because of the presence of unvaccinated folks.

I guess I share in his surprise though too. If you're vaccinated, why are you worried about being around unvaccinated people? I'm asking this genuinely as my understanding is that vaccinated v. unvaccinated doesn't create a higher risk of transfer and if I'm mostly immune I'm not concerned about what others are doing (and wouldn't feel that badly for them if they caught it). 

In other words, what am I missing here that I agree with your boss?

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52 minutes ago, Alex P Keaton said:

I’m not afraid of being around unvaccinated people.  There is a reason the concept of herd immunity exists.  We shouldn’t have mass amounts of unvaccinated people living life normally until we reach herd immunity.  

Maybe you're answering my question here. Your hesitation of being around them is for the group's sake?

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41 minutes ago, Gally said:

Which is why many people aren't rushing to get the vaccine.  There isn't enough consensus or information regarding long term effects.  Just because someone isn't rushing to get the vaccine or doesn't want to be forced into getting something that was rushed to market doesn't mean they are anti-vaxxers either.  I am all for vaccinations but I have reservations about getting something that was rushed to market without any knowledge about long term affects and that didn't go through full research protocols.  

 

Trying to mandate employees to get the vaccination is going to be a hard sell when the military & federal government isn't mandating their employees to get the vaccine due to the emergency approval status (not full approval status).  This may change if/when the vaccine gets full approval status but until then I doubt it is wise (legally) to force employees to get the vaccination. 

:goodposting:

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Full Disclosure:  I've been WFH for the better part of 20 years, so going to an office really isn't an issue for me fortunately.  However, how difficult is it to say "all those who aren't vaccinated are still required to do the standard things to mitigate spread.  6 feet a part, masks, etc. "  Have your offices set in a way that a section is there for the vaccinated and those that aren't.  This doesn't seem to be all that different than going to a doctor's office and having a waiting room for those who are "sick" and those just there for a check up etc.  Why is this difficult?  And as a business owner, who's to tell me what is best for my business?  If I feel like I need to make sure everyone is protected and that's best for my company, who's the gov't to say I can't do that?

Edited by The Commish
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18 minutes ago, Zow said:

Maybe you're answering my question here. Your hesitation of being around them is for the group's sake?

I’m not hesitant personally.  I’m focused on supporting rational public health measures to mitigate further spread until we reach herd immunity.

If I was just focused on my own personal situation, I’d be glad to be in a group of unvaccinated people once I’m vaccinated.  But it isn’t just about me.  This is a collective action problem.

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16 minutes ago, The Commish said:

Full Disclosure:  I've been WFH for the better part of 20 years, so going to an office really isn't an issue for me fortunately.  However, how difficult is it to say "all those who aren't vaccinated are still required to do the standard things to mitigate spread.  6 feet a part, masks, etc. "  Have your offices set in a way that a section is there for the vaccinated and those that aren't.  This doesn't seem to be all that different than going to a doctor's office and having a waiting room for those who are "sick" and those just there for a check up etc.  Why is this difficult?  And as a business owner, who's to tell me what is best for my business?  If I feel like I need to make sure everyone is protected and that's best for my company, who's the gov't to say I can't do that?

Exactly

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Yeah, I'm in the camp that government agencies can't or shouldn't be able to require vaccination. But private companies can do whatever they want. And if American Airlines says they will require vaccinations, they may lose business from anti-vaxxers. And that's fine. That's capitalism at work. Maybe another airline will try to steal the business by specifically NOT requiring vaccination. 

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12 hours ago, culdeus said:

Being told 4Q will look at things for return.  They can't push the shot on people and don't want to get sued if it turns people gay or something. 

Didn't know this was an option

As far as I know, we are not requiring the vaccine but certainly encouraging it. They will re-work the cube farm that is our office to accommodate new norms and move forward. Not sure how they address the situation, I'm getting the vaccine as soon as I can so don't really care. Would rather not be required to wear a mask while in the office to accommodate anti-vax folks but will address that topic if it comes up.

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2 hours ago, Alex P Keaton said:

Just was talking about this with our COO (my former boss).  My company isn’t going to mandate vaccination as part of a return to the office.  I told him I’m not coming back to the office until either a) the company makes it a return-to-office condition for all employees, or b) we reach herd immunity.  He was genuinely surprised that vaccinated people wouldn’t return because of the presence of unvaccinated folks.

I'd be looking for your replacement.

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I know 2 full families who refuse to get vaccinated.  They are old school hippie types even though only in their mid 30s.  The two women are sisters and they each have 2 kids.  No vaccines for them, husbands or their familes.  They said if it ever has impact on employment they are ready file lawsuits.

Edited by Summer Wheat
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1 hour ago, chet said:

Are employers allowed to ask the vaccination status of employees?  I was on the phone with a business that I used to frequent often pre-pandemic.   I asked about the vaccination status of their employees and they said due to HIPPA, they're not allowed to ask. 

Yes, employers can ask and also require it.  We've given everyone a day of PTO for getting vaccinated, but aren't requiring it.  I am requiring proof of vaccination to take the day though.  The employer is not able to divulge information specifically who has/hasn't been vaccinated due to HIPPA. 

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