by HealthPartners

It seems like a century has passed since COVID-19 began reshaping nearly every facet of our lives and livelihoods. Almost immediately, researchers began the exhaustive task of developing safe, effective vaccines as quickly as possible.

By December 2020, vaccination efforts were underway. In January 2021, President Joe Biden announced his goal to reach 200 million vaccine doses by the end of his first 100 days in office. And by March 2021, vaccine access and availability were on the rise and eligibility was being expanded.

Today, a sense of relief permeates the air. Shops and restaurants are reopening. People are making tentative plans for vacations and get-togethers with friends. So, we should be well on our way back to normal, right?

There’s still a lot of work to be done. The focus now is on making sure vaccination efforts are a success – something that will be much easier with the support of businesses like yours.

After all, the success of the COVID-19 vaccines isn’t just important for people’s health, but also the health of your business.

How we got here: The massive impact the coronavirus had on businesses

No business was left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic – and the effects are still totaling up.

According to data from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, more than 40% of the businesses surveyed temporarily closed early in the outbreak. Fast-forward to now, the combination of added costs and lost or depressed sales has resulted in a staggering financial impact for most organizations.

But the pandemic didn’t just affect the bottom line, it also prompted fundamental changes in the way we work. For better or worse, every organization was required to rethink their operations. And despite many challenges, some businesses have been able to find cost and productivity efficiencies to help offset losses, take steps to foster a thriving creative culture at a distance, and make decisions to hopefully bolster long-term success and financial stability.

Also, many organizations are growing more optimistic about what the future holds. A recent Deloitte survey showed that 29% of North America’s top financial executives rate current economic conditions as “good” – which is up from just 18% the previous quarter.

While there’s a lot of enthusiasm about getting back to life and work, there’s still risk and uncertainty. So, it’s important to take strategic steps – particularly when it comes to developing a COVID-19 vaccination strategy and workplace vaccination program – to keep your employees and business healthy for the long run.

Why the success of COVID-19 vaccines is critical to your business

The safety of your employees, customers and community members depends on containing the disease

The steps you’ve taken to protect your workplace, employees, customers and communities from COVID-19 are helping protect the health of everyone. And now that vaccine access and availability are on the rise, the full reopening of your business may seem within reach.

But COVID-19 is still out there and is likely to stay, which means many of the people who are most essential to your business are still at risk for infection. Any employees or customers who get sick can have a direct impact on your operations and bottom line – a reality businesses have been dealing with from the beginning.

High rates of vaccination are essential for protecting your employees, customers, communities and business – which brings us to our next point.

High community rates of COVID-19 vaccination are essential for fully reopening your business

If businesses and organizations fully reopen before COVID-19 is adequately controlled, the future may look a lot like the past – more isolation, more closures, more revenue loss and so on. But that’s where the vaccines come in.

Here’s what we know about the COVID-19 vaccines: They’re safe, they’re effective and the more eligible people who get vaccinated, the safer we’ll all be. And the more quickly we increase vaccination rates, the more quickly your business can get to where it wants to be.

The long-term health of your business is at stake

When your business reopens, you undoubtedly want to stay open. For this to happen, we need the number of COVID-19 cases to remain low – something that will be driven by vaccination rates inside and outside the communities you serve.

Your employees can be big contributors to increasing vaccination rates. And helping them understand how their decision to get vaccinated can have a positive impact on the community and your business is an important step. But there’s another reason to care about the vaccination decisions of your workforce: Employees who could be vaccinated, but choose not to be, could put others at risk.

Vaccinations can help ensure that your business is a safe place for people to work and for customers to spend their money.

Why your organization is critical to the success of the COVID-19 vaccines

The pandemic is more than a medical crisis – it’s a communications crisis, too

With so much COVID-19 information being shared, it can be hard to know what’s important, accurate and relevant. Throughout the pandemic, especially in the early days and weeks, information and guidance seemed to become outdated quickly or needed constant clarification – sowing some seeds of confusion and distrust.

Then and now, people are looking for someone to trust, but who? It turns out it may be you.

According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer – which provides an annual look at global trust in business, government, media and NGOs – business is the most trusted institution right now.

This makes sense. During the pandemic, businesses everywhere stepped up in a big way with measures to keep employees safe – and employed.

By being part of the conversation about COVID-19 vaccines, you can continue to keep your business and employees safe and healthy. And one of the biggest hurdles is lingering hesitancy and skepticism around vaccine safety and efficacy.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the COVID-19 vaccines. The good news is that public sentiment about the COVID-19 vaccine is shifting and growing more positive, according to the Pew Research Center.

In September 2020, only about half of Americans said that they would (21%) or probably would (30%) get vaccinated. At the beginning of March 2021, 70% of the people in the United States either received their first dose (19%) or said they definitely will (32%) or probably will (17%) get the vaccine.

But still, nearly one-third of Americans are disinclined to get vaccinated – 15% say that they probably won’t and another 15% say they definitely won’t.

Joining the effort to educate the public not only strengthens the message, but can also speed vaccine adoption

Your business is your employees’ livelihood. So, the success of the business is also tied to their success. Those who are disinclined to be vaccinated for one reason or another may be more willing to do so if they understand its importance to the business.

By aligning your message with that of leading experts at the federal and local level, while also personalizing communications, you can strengthen your employees’ confidence in the vaccines and willingness to get vaccinated. And as we already mentioned, increasing vaccination rates is the pathway to moving your business forward.

It’s usually not a matter of mandating vaccinations for your employees to feel compelled to get vaccinated. Rather, let them know that being vaccinated is the safest and quickest way to get to the new normal – where we have the best protections in place to keep people and the business safe and healthy.

The bottom line: It’s an opportunity (and your responsibility) to build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine

The success of the COVID-19 vaccine is a critical factor in getting back to business. The good news is that most Americans are leaning toward getting a vaccine. But that doesn’t mean they’ll receive it without the right information, motivation or support. How can we ensure the highest levels of vaccination? Communication is key.

For starters, you can help by promoting COVID-19 vaccines to employees with accurate, transparent and tailored messages. And when it’s time for your employees to get their vaccines, make it easier for them by providing flexible scheduling and time off. Depending on your employee population, assisting with transportation can also be helpful. And after they’ve received their vaccination, make sure to acknowledge their role in helping to keep everyone safe.

If you have questions or need help along the way, we have you covered. Our compilation of COVID-19 resources for businesses include the latest news, information and guidance. We also offer support and a range of services through our Back to Business solution to help employers operate safely through the pandemic.

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