Many U.S. Companies Already Have Vaccine Mandates

Businesses that were early adopters have seen compliance with little workforce interruption.

November 05, 2021

Person Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Many company-imposed vaccine mandates have come and gone with U.S. companies losing little to none of their workforce because of it, reports Axios. Many employees have either gotten the jab or taken advantage of wiggle room offered by their employers.

Many large employers enacted vaccine mandates prior to the federal government’s requirement for employers with 100 or more employees to require the vaccine against COVID-19. And while many feared mass exoduses of people refusing to get vaccinated across various companies, many large companies have said that compliance has been high, and there's little risk that they'll end up losing any significant share of their workforce.

United Airlines was the first American airline to mandate its workers get inoculated, and it reports that most of its employees are vaccinated, but the airline "is facing a federal lawsuit brought by six of its employees who have applied for a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine mandate," according to CNN.

Axios says that although vaccine mandates are common, there are not universal, and many of them have significant exceptions or lax enforcement. So, just because workers may not be leaving their jobs or terminated due to the vaccination requirement, that doesn’t mean that those employees are getting vaccinated. Hospitals, for example, are reporting higher-than-usual rates of medical or religious exemptions among employees.

Qualtrics, a survey software company, found that less than half of U.S. workers (49%) believe their employers or the government will be able to enforce federal vaccine mandates effectively. This may change now that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has issued its requirement that employers with 100 or more employees mandate that all of their employees be fully vaccinated no later than Jan. 4, 2022, or implement a policy allowing for weekly testing.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had mentioned the U.S. "may need to update" its definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after the approval of booster shots. But on Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the CDC is "not examining" changing its definition, reports Axios.

There was a focus on teachers getting vaccinated and school districts imposing a mandated vaccine policy for faculty this year, but just 15 districts enacted universal mandates for employees, according to the Center for Reinventing Public Education, a nonpartisan research center.

"Districts are saying that employees could be disciplined up to termination, but only a handful are really taking those first steps of termination or placing employees on unpaid leave," Bree Dusseault, principal researcher at the center, tells Axios. "So, teachers who don't get vaccinated are given some options to still stay in their jobs, at least for the short term."