The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate — which requires all private employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or are tested for Covid-19 weekly — is currently held up by legal challenges, but organizations should still prepare and continue implementing mandate plans.
A range of technology solutions have been developed to help buyer organizations and their staffing suppliers deal with vaccine management, according to SIA’s “Vaccine Management Solutions” report. Front-office software vendors, vendor management systems, applicant tracking systems, background check providers and others are now offering such solutions.
Digital Health Cards and Vaccine Management Solutions
Technology firms operating in the workforce solutions ecosystem are providing new digital health cards and vaccine management solutions, which can be used to create vaccine passports, organize tests and collect results, screen for Covid-19 symptoms, provide employee illness reporting, help identify and manage exposure risk and offer outreach for employee wellbeing, according to SIA’s report. A third variety of this software, such as VaxManager or Accenture’s Vaccine Management Solution, supports health professionals in delivering vaccine programs.
There are some obvious advantages in digital credentialing compared to traditional paper-based credentials: biometric security protects data and prevents forgery, reduced physical touchpoints, speed of access, lower cost and automation to deal with changing requirements.
“At a very basic level, it is not difficult to configure an onboarding module to record a job candidate or temporary worker’s vaccination status,” the report states.” Those using more flexible software products may even be able to configure such functionality themselves without having to wait for a product upgrade.”
Similarly, individual client vaccine requirements can be easily added to a client record, even on a per-location basis. Such functionality is likely to be found already among leading products in front-office software, VMSs and ATSs. But there are many other issues to consider beyond a simple “box-ticking” exercise in establishing an effective vaccine management process, not least of which is determining which processes can be automated and which vendors can best support your requirements.
Getting on Board
Government mandates aside, many private firms have already taken steps to implement their own vaccine policies. According to research from Textkernel, the percentage of jobs advertised in the US that mention a vaccine mandate has increased to 8.4% though the figure reaches as high as 14.6% for public-sector jobs.
But as employers struggle to get talent on board, many may choose to forego vaccine requirements to increase their pool of job applicants. In a survey released Dec. 13 by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than half of employers subject to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate are waiting to see how the current legal challenges unfold before deciding on a vaccination policy. The survey from late November found 51% are waiting to make a decision and a majority of respondents, 75%, said they are not likely to require vaccines or testing if the mandate is permanently struck down by the courts.
There still remains a major showdown over OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard implementing the mandate, with the Sixth Circuit set to soon review a prior decision of the Fifth Circuit that enjoined the ETS, Adam Childers of law firm Crowe & Dunlevy writes in a JD Supra blog post. A final fight before the US Supreme Court could be in the offing after that.
“With decisions being handed down seemingly on a weekly basis, it would be wise to have your human resources professionals dialed in to the latest developments to see if the fortunes of the vaccine mandates change and new employer responsibilities are created, or if the current trend continues and the vaccination mandates fail to ever pass legal muster,” Childers wrote.
While vaccine mandates may be issued by a government, state or individual employer, the new solutions available can help to organize vaccine delivery and testing, confirm vaccine status, collect test results, help to screen for Covid-19 symptoms and provide support for workforce wellbeing and return to work policies. SIA’s full “Vaccine Management Solutions” report is available online to CWS Council and SIA corporate members.