Should COVID-19 Booster Shots be Included in Workplace Policies?

Booster Shots New Mandate

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As a result of federal and state obligations, many companies are changing their COVID-19 immunization policy. Employers may be asking if they should demand staff to get an extra injection to be deemed “completely vaccinated” now that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved booster doses.

For the time being, employment law lawyers advise employers to refrain from requiring booster injections.

“I believe it’s definitely too soon to make such modifications at this time,” said Jim Hermon, a Detroit attorney with Dykema.

Employers are focusing on helping their employees get beyond the initial vaccine hurdle, according to John Thomas Jr., an attorney at McGuireWoods in Tysons, Va. “Some geographic areas—and some industries—are still battling to achieve a critical level of people prepared to take the shot.”

Boosters recently approved 


Employers should be aware that booster injections are not currently mandatory for all employees. “Most companies are unlikely to think the effort they spend implementing a booster policy to be well spent until these boosters are generally available,” Hermon added.

For the following persons, the FDA has approved a single booster injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 and Moderna vaccines, as long as six months have passed since their second dose:

  • People in their sixties and seventies.
  • People between the ages of 18 and 64 who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • People between the ages of 18 and 64 who are at high risk of exposure and transmission at employment or in institutions such as long-term care facilities.

In addition, the FDA recommends that all recipients aged 18 and older receive a second dosage of the Johnson & Johnson injection at least two months following their initial jab.

Notably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States continues to use the following definition of “completely vaccinated”:

  • The person has had two weeks since the second dosage of a two-dose series vaccination, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
  • A single-dose vaccination, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, has been given to the person for two weeks.

“Though there is concern about whether the concept of ‘completely vaccinated’ will expand to include boosters, boosters are now voluntary,” Thomas explained. “Employers have depended on public health guidelines from the CDC and state health agencies to educate their employees about the vaccine’s efficacy, and I think it will continue to be the most prevalent sources of information about the booster.”

For the time being, the CDC has said that the approval of booster doses “should not divert attention away from the vital effort of ensuring that unvaccinated persons take the first step and get an initial COVID-19 vaccination.”

Employers in specific industries, according to Thomas, should pay special attention to public health recommendations about boosters. First responders, education, food and agriculture, manufacturing, prisons, public transportation, and grocery shops are among these businesses and jobs. Workers in these fields are at a higher risk of being exposed to and transmitting diseases.

Beginning to plan


Companies with a minimum of 100 employees should pay careful attention to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) upcoming COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, that will require larger businesses to ensure that their employees are vaccinated or give evidence of a negative COVID-19 test every week.

Federal contractors must also be immunized against COVID-19 by December 8, according to Biden administration advice.

Although many businesses may not be able to add booster injections to their immunization policy until later, lawyers say employers may begin planning now.

“I believe it’s a company-specific issue,” Katherine Dudley Helms, an attorney at Ogletree Deakins in Columbia, South Carolina, said. According to her, some organizations have seen a significant proportion of workers getting vaccinations, so adding boosters to their recommendations when the doses are permitted could make sense.

If, on the other hand, the staff vaccination rate is low or vaccinations has been a struggle for the business, she suggests focusing on increasing the rate of first immunization rather than putting the booster on top of that. Even with this strategy, she claims, a business may absolutely assist and motivate staff who are suitable for the booster injection and desire to have it.

“Those who do not mandate vaccines, in my experience, are establishing policies and practical preparations for the possibility that they could become required, either due to federal regulations or because the moment is perfect,” Helms remarked.

Employers should inform employees, just as they did with the first immunizations, if the firm would cover the expenses of obtaining the booster injection, such as the time spent receiving it. Employers should also think about how time off will be handled if employees respond negatively.



Organizations should launch instructional efforts if they anticipate existing policies to change, according to Thomas. “Employers that can convince or motivate employees to get vaccinated or get booster shots may find it simpler to enforce a mandate if there are changes in policy. Leadership begins at the top, and executives must model the conduct they want their staff to emulate.”

During the epidemic, effective companies made it a point to communicate often with their staff, utilizing e-mail, large-scale Web calls, video announcements, and any other tools at their disposal, according to Hermon.

“Businesses should remain to utilize those channels to urge workers to be vaccinations, advise them about booster shot availability, and address issues that may occur as workers come back to work,” says the report.



See how HealthBoxHR can help your business manage and prepare for the new possible OSHA mandate – track the progress of your employee vaccines and/or request weekly test uploads without any hassle.

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