Friday, August 12, 2022
Bringing the Latest in News Straight to Your Screen


Employers Are Key To Slowing Covid-19 Spread Among Children

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at August 20, 2021

By Stephen Massey, Co-Founder, Meteorite

As schools reopen across the country, just 36% of eligible adolescents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Parents say employers can help.

Last week, more than 120,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for COVID-19, reflecting a surge in new cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. Just 29% of working parents with household incomes under $90,000 say their 12-17 year-old has been vaccinated for COVID-19 compared to over half (54%) of working parents with higher incomes. New polling from KFF suggests that employer actions could help close these gaps and drive vaccine uptake among eligible children:

●     Few working parents – particularly those with lower incomes – say their employer offers them paid time off to get their children vaccinated or care for them if they experience vaccine side effects.

●     One-quarter of working parents of unvaccinated 12-17 year-olds say they would be more likely to get their child vaccinated if their employer offered them paid time off to do so.

●     Lower income parents are considerably more likely to say paid time off or on-site family vaccine clinics would convince them to get their children vaccinated.

That’s why the Health Action Alliance – together with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Business Roundtable, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) and more than two dozen other national business and public health organizations – are calling on employers to support workers who may need help getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19 and catch up on routine immunizations. Widespread vaccination is needed to protect the health of children, safely reopen schools and help employees get back to work.

I sat down with SHRM’s President & CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., to talk about why businesses should support working parents who want to vaccinate eligible children.

Massey: It’s been more than three months since the FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 12 and older. Yet, as of mid-August, just 36% of eligible adolescents are fully vaccinated. Why should this concern employers and human resource professionals?

Taylor: Thank you for these questions. As a father of an 11-year-old daughter, these issues are very personal and important to me. I understand working parents have faced some of the greatest challenges during the pandemic. Women, communities of color and lower income families have especially borne the brunt.

Across the country, businesses are struggling with employee recruitment, retention and absenteeism. Bringing working parents reliably back into the workforce, and getting our economy back on track, will require schools and childcare facilities to reopen and remain open this fall. Vaccination is key to safely reopening schools and keeping them open for children and teachers.

Given the surging Delta variant and the urgent labor shortages, there is a clear business case to take steps to support working parents, improve the health of children and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Now that adolescents ages 12 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, public health officials, educators, community leaders, and businesses must work together to remove any barriers that prevent parents who choose to vaccinate their children from doing so. And, when younger children become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines later this year, employers should be ready with policies to help working parents get their younger children vaccinated too.

Massey: Recent polling suggests that businesses that encourage vaccination and offer paid time off for vaccine appointments and recovery can significantly drive vaccine uptake. Can you share some examples of businesses that have gone a step further to help working parents get their children vaccinated?

Taylor: Absolutely! I’ll share three examples from the food and beverage industry, which has been especially hard hit by labor shortages.

●     Utz Quality Foods, based in Hanover, Pennsylvania, is educating associates and family members about the importance of COVID-19 vaccines for children, and they’re providing on-site vaccination clinics for families and flexible scheduling to workers who choose to vaccinate eligible children.

●     Land O’Lakes, headquartered in Arden Hills, Minnesota, is providing paid time off to employees with children to attend vaccine appointments, care for children recovering from vaccine side effects and catch up on well-child visits.

●     Dine Brands, which owns Applebee’s and IHOP, is incentivizing working parents to get their children vaccinated. The company’s hourly workers will be offered a $25 cash bonus when they vaccinate eligible children. Restaurant managers and corporate employees will be provided with four hours of paid time off to get eligible children vaccinated.

Massey:  Dozens of leading business and public health organizations, including SHRM, have come together with the Health Action Alliance to call on employers to support working parents who want to vaccinate eligible children. Why should businesses heed this call, given everything else they’re juggling right now?

Taylor: For many parents, a major barrier to getting their children vaccinated are workplace policies that don’t provide the flexibility they need to attend vaccine appointments or care for children recovering from vaccine side effects. This is especially challenging for hourly workers, part-time or seasonal workers, low income workers, and workers from communities that face structural inequities in healthcare access. These are the same communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

That’s why I’m so proud that employers, business groups and public health organizations are focused on helping working parents, who choose to do so, to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 and catch up on other routine immunizations. We are encouraging employers to host on-site vaccine clinics for families or offer paid time off, transportation, childcare and other support to those workers who may need help getting their children vaccinated.

Employer Resources

The Health Action Alliance & the American Academy of Pediatrics offer free tools and resources to help employers support working parents who want to vaccinate eligible children against COVID-19. Join us.

This is a content marketing post from Meteorite, a Forbes EQ participant. Forbes brand contributors’ opinions are their own.

Comments


Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published.