January 29, 2021

For more information, contact
Tricia Harris, Director of Public Affairs
PA Chamber of Business and Industry

Employers Play a Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Adoption and Distribution

By: Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO, National Safety Council and
Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry

As businesses and individual lives have for months been brought to a near standstill by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of vaccines has promised a light at the end of the tunnel. This wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of scientists and drug manufacturers who developed the vaccines in record-setting fashion. The long-term economic recovery for Pennsylvania and the nation depends on safe and innovative strategies to deploy these life-saving vaccines broadly, and employers must play a pivotal role in this effort. 

In partnership with government and public health agencies, employers can provide a key source of support when it comes to community access and engagement, addressing vaccine acceptance and other key factors for adoption. Widespread distribution of the vaccine is essential if we are to reach the 70 percent immunity threshold identified by public health experts that will help us successfully defeat this virus. For the 157 million people in the U.S. workforce, employers must help the American public understand the many benefits of vaccination. That’s why we are calling on job creators to publicly support the COVID-19 vaccine, share information about it with their employees, and encourage all eligible individuals to get vaccinated.  

We urge employers to visit the PA Chamber’s Bringing PA Back website, which includes information on the state’s vaccination distribution plan. The site’s vaccination page gives an overview of each of the Department of Health’s distribution phases and a map of vaccine providers throughout the Commonwealth. This website is a user-friendly resource for businesses and provides the most current information and guidelines from the state and CDC.  

A streamlined distribution plan is essential to a successful vaccination strategy. We are encouraged that the state is utilizing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency list of essential critical workers to guide its vaccine distribution plan. This will help prioritize the state’s critical infrastructure workers.

When the first cases of the virus first emerged in Pennsylvania last spring, there were many unknowns to grapple with – including how best to treat the disease and stop its spread. Many employers found themselves without standard guidance for safely responding to the pandemic. This created a challenging and chaotic time, as businesses were forced to close their doors and struggled to keep up with changing and confusing guidance, skyrocketing unemployment and a nosediving economy. 

Additionally, the State of the Response report released in September by the National Safety Council (NSC), assessed state-level efforts when it came to pandemic response. The report showed that Pennsylvania was one of 29 states lagging overall and one of 35 states lagging in providing clear and comprehensive guidelines for safe workplace operations. We continue to feel these negative impacts.

The vaccine alone is not a panacea for the economic devastation brought on the pandemic, but it is a potential lifeline for millions of unemployed workers, hundreds of thousands of small businesses and every organization and individual impacted by its financial fallout. The vaccine can be successful if people opt to get vaccinated. While the future world of work has been forever altered, pervasive adoption of the vaccine will help facilitate hiring, reopening and a return to some level of business normalcy.

There is a path forward and it will require all of us working together to put this pandemic behind us. As employers continue to reinforce proven COVID-19 safety precautions and keep their people, customers and communities safe, they deserve a clear roadmap for handling the vaccine. The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and NSC will continue to work alongside our partners to provide employers the guidance they need to implement vaccine strategies safely and effectively. It’s going to take all of us working together to get this right.