DHS Releases Employer Guidance Regarding Vaccination Hesitancy

Employers of workers within the critical infrastructure sectors are essential to reducing vaccine hesitancy within their workforce by becoming messengers of accurate, reliable, and timely information.

That is why DHS has released– CISA Insights: COVID-19 Vaccination Hesitancy within the Critical Infrastructure Workforce—  which provides an overview of COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy and steps that critical infrastructure owners and operators can take to reduce the risk and encourage vaccine acceptance across their critical sectors’ workforce. 

To reduce the risks of low vaccination rates, it is important employers become messengers of accurate and reliable information within their workplaces and across their industries.

According to the CDC, employing some or all these measures may help to increase vaccine acceptance:

— Have workplace leadership take the COVID-19 vaccine, capture their experience using video or photo, and share the experience with their staff.

— Train interested staff to become COVID-19 vaccination ambassadors who will speak confidently and honestly, relaying personal stories about the vaccine to fellow coworkers and answer any of their concerns.

— Employ all available communication tools when promoting the COVID-19 vaccine to staff including social media, internal communication channels, and posters or signs around the workplace.

— Set a virtual townhall where leadership, respected local medical experts, and staff share about their COVID19 vaccine experience, other vaccine facts, and answer audience questions. Use experts to communicate to your staff and constituents when talking about the COVID-19 vaccine. Ensure that these experts present factual information about the vaccine, including risks.

— Some employers give employees paid time off to get the vaccine and offer paid sick leave for employees who have significant reactions to the vaccine.

— While waiting to become vaccine-eligible, continue using all non-medical intervention methods to protect against the COVID-19 virus and all variants by social distancing, frequent handwashing, and the use of masks. Encourage these practices within your staff and implement policies where needed. 

While COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy within the critical infrastructure workforce represents a risk to our National Critical Functions and critical infrastructure companies and operations, CISA recognizes that this critical infrastructure workforce can also serve as a key stakeholder in encouraging the rest of the population to get vaccinated and help the return to everyday life.

If vaccine acceptance is low across these populations, others within a community may also be reluctant to accept the vaccine when it becomes available to them.

Employers of frontline essential workers have an opportunity to encourage and lead their critical infrastructure workforce in COVID-19 vaccine acceptance.

Building and sustaining public trust and confidence in immunization systems is essential and the critical infrastructure workforce can play a vital role.                     

For additional resources see the CDC’s Essential Workers COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit.

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