This toolkit is for employers interested in helping their staff get vaccinated against COVID-19. Some occupations put staff at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. Employers like you play an important role in helping these staff get access to the vaccine.
This toolkit contains tips and suggestions for hosting a clinic through local partner organizations or encouraging vaccination offsite in the community. Additional information can be found at the Washington State Department of Health's COVID-19 vaccination website, www.CovidVaccineWA.org.
- Why Offer COVID-19 Vaccines at Work?
- Recommended Strategies and Checklists for Businesses and Employers
- Promoting COVID-19 Vaccination at Work: A Checklist for Businesses and Employers
- COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
- Resources and Materials
Why Offer COVID-19 Vaccines at Work?
Making a Business Case for Your Decision
Similar to hosting or offering annual workplace flu vaccination clinics, encouraging COVID-19 vaccination in the workplace offers many benefits to you and your employees. Widespread vaccination of employees should be an important consideration for businesses of any size when restarting operations, returning to the workplace, or continuing to offer telework options.
Benefits of Workplace COVID-19 Vaccination
The benefits of offering COVID-19 vaccine in the workplace will vary based on how strongly employers support vaccination efforts, and the number of employees vaccinated.
Benefits to employers:
- Keeps your workforce healthy
- Reduces sick days, prevents a loss of productivity due to staffing shortages
- Costs nothing for your organization – vaccination services are provided at no cost
- Improves morale and employee safety
Benefits to employees:
- Offers a high level of protection against COVID-19
- Reduces loss of work due to illness or medical visits
- Improves and protects health
- Convenience of getting vaccinated during work time
- Improves morale and eases safety concerns
Recommended Strategies and Checklists for Businesses and Employers
Be a partner in good health. Consider offering on-site vaccinations at your business location(s) and/or encourage and educate employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the community. Review COVID-19 prevention measures and vaccine recommendations with senior managers, employees, and labor representatives.
Everyone 6 months and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Everyone 5 years and older is eligible for an updated bivalent booster. We recommend choosing between these two strategies to help encourage vaccination in the workplace:
- Strategy 1: Host a workplace clinic for employees
Choose to host an on-site workplace vaccination clinic for employees at little to no cost. If your employees are working on-site, this option can work well because it provides fast and convenient access to the vaccine.
You do not need to enroll as a vaccine provider to host an on-site clinic for your employees. The provider you contract with must be enrolled. Contact your local health department to see if there are enrolled mobile clinics, pharmacies, or community vaccinators available in your area to partner with for hosting at the worksite. You may also sign up for a mobile vaccine clinic for your workplace through Care-a-Van.
Some vaccine providers may require a certain number of people to justify holding a workplace clinic.
Promoting COVID-19 Vaccination at Work: A Checklist for Businesses and Employers
- Get senior management to support a vaccination clinic at the workplace.
- Frame employee vaccinations as a business priority and create a goal aligned with this effort.
- Identify a vaccination coordinator or team with defined roles and responsibilities. Occupational health personnel or workplace safety staff may lead these efforts for employers. The planning process should also include input from employees and labor representatives, if needed.
- Reach out to your local health jurisdiction to see if there is a mobile clinic, pharmacy, or community vaccinator available in your area. Some vaccine providers may require a certain number of people to justify holding a workplace clinic.
- Schedule the vaccination clinic at a time when most employees can participate, such as hosting on a weekday during normal hours of operation.
- Gauge need and demand among employees for vaccination. An employee survey is one example of a good way to measure who is eligible and has not received it.
- Ask managers and supervisors to allow employees to attend the clinic as part of their work day and without having to go off the clock.
- Consider offering vaccination to employees’ families.
- Set a goal and help show employees how their participation matters.
Hosting and Promotion
- Use incentives for vaccination to increase participation, such as gift cards, a complimentary lunch, or holding a contest for the department with the highest percentage of vaccinated employees.
- Promote the vaccination clinic by doing the following:
- Place an article in company communications (e.g., newsletters, intranet, emails, portals, etc.) about the clinic and other COVID-19 prevention methods.
- Post a promotional flyer to advertise the date and time of the clinic in high-traffic areas or in paycheck envelopes.
- Post flyers about the importance of vaccination in breakrooms, cafeterias, restrooms, stairwells and other high-traffic areas.
- Promote vaccination among employees through communications from leadership.
- Use social media channels for promotion.
- Provide a comfortable and convenient location to host clinics. COVID-19 vaccine clinics should be designed with prevention measures in mind, like physical distancing and air flow. You can read more on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
- Set an example by encouraging managers and business leaders to get vaccinated and inform staff of their decision to do so. Leaders who get vaccinated can share their personal stories with employees to illustrate how much they value the vaccine.
- Encourage employees to share a post-vaccination bandage photo on social media, tagging the company as a thank you for supporting vaccination as a work activity.
- Strategy 2: Encourage employees to get vaccinated locally
If a workplace clinic isn’t possible, you can also encourage employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine by promoting vaccine education and directing them to a local vaccine provider through www.CovidVaccineWA.org.
The COVID-19 vaccine is available at no cost. The Department of Health (DOH) has many resources and materials available to help educate employees about the importance of vaccination and how COVID-19 is spread.
Promoting COVID-19 Vaccination at Work: A Checklist for Businesses and Employers
- Be flexible in your human resources policies. Establish policies that allow for employees to take an hour or two to find and get the COVID-19 vaccine in their community. You can direct employees to www.CovidVaccineWA.org for more detailed information and to find a convenient, nearby location.
- Partner with nearby pharmacies or clinics to arrange for employees to get vaccinated. If the business shares a building, shopping center, or office park with other employers, see if the property manager will host a vaccination clinic for all tenants’ employees. Find a local pharmacy with available COVID-19 vaccine available (updated daily) at www.VaccineFinder.org.
- Use promotional posters or flyers to advertise how to find a vaccine location in the community. Display posters about vaccination in break rooms, cafeterias, and other high-traffic areas.
- Post articles in company communications (i.e., newsletters, intranet, emails, portals, etc.) about the importance of workplace vaccination and where to get the vaccine in the community.
- Encourage employees’ families to get vaccinated by distributing information for employees to take home.
- Encourage employees to share a post-vaccination bandage photo on social media, tagging the company as a thank you for supporting the decision to vaccinate.
You may choose to require the COVID-19 vaccine for your staff. Washington currently requires it for cabinet agency state employees, health care workers, long-term care workers, and employees in education (public and private K-12 school, childcare, early learning, and higher education). The Washington State Department of Health cannot give legal advice. If you decide to have a COVID-19 vaccine policy, please consult with your legal counsel.
Below are a few things to consider when deciding your COVID-19 vaccine policy.
- Removing Barriers to Vaccination
- Give your staff work time to get the vaccine. Check out this FAQ from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (LNI) on COVID-19 vaccines and paid sick leave.
- Set a reasonable timeframe for employees to meet the vaccine requirement. Keep in mind that two-dose vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) require three to four weeks between doses. The updated bivalent booster can be received at least two months after the completion of the primary series or last booster/additional dose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only considers someone up to date on their COVID-19 vaccination if they have completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended for them.
- Consider hosting an on-site vaccination clinic. See Strategy 1 for tips on how to do this.
- Provide opportunities to learn more about the vaccines. The Washington State Department of Health has a variety of resources available in over 30 languages.
- Checking Proof of Vaccination
- Determine what you will accept as proof of vaccination.
- Keep in mind that some of your staff may have been vaccinated outside of the United States. Check the World Health Organization (WHO) for an updated list of COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers anyone vaccinated with an FDA-authorized or WHO-listed vaccine to be fully vaccinated.
- If you require employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination from a pharmacy or healthcare provider, you should know that you cannot require that the employee provide any further medical information as part of their proof.
- Setting a Policy for Accommodations or Opt Outs
- Consider what you will take as an acceptable reason (medical, personal, etc.) for your staff to opt out of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Determine if you will require other safety measures (masks, regular testing, etc.) instead of vaccination.
- Work with your legal counsel to set options for accommodations. You can read more about vaccines and accommodations on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.
- How do I get a vaccine provider to come to my business?
Contact your local health department to see if there are mobile clinics, pharmacies, or community vaccinators available in your area to partner with for hosting at the worksite. You may also sign up for a mobile vaccine clinic for your workplace through Care-a-Van.
Some vaccine providers may require a certain number of people to justify holding a workplace clinic.
- Does my business need to register as a vaccine provider with the state in order to receive vaccine?
No, you do not have to enroll or register your business with the state in order to provide your employees access to vaccine. Some health care facilities already have a provider agreement to directly receive and administer vaccines. If you are not a health care facility, your business would bring in a provider who’s already enrolled and has authorized vaccinators (see previous FAQ answer above) to provide and administer vaccines to your employees.
For enrolled health care providers: If you are a health care facility enrolled in the COVID-19 vaccine program (or want to become enrolled) you are allowed to host your own clinic and vaccinate your eligible employees if you wish. For example, a hospital may choose to vaccinate its staff using its own nurses, or a grocery store may partner with its on-site pharmacy.
For health care providers wanting to enroll, see the COVID-19 vaccine program enrollment page.
- Can employees get vaccinated if they are not eligible in the current phase of vaccination?
Employees must be eligible to get vaccinated. People 6 months and older are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines and updated boosters. Please visit doh.wa.gov/covidbooster for up to date information on booster eligibility.
- Do employees who are up to date on their vaccinations need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others?
The COVID-19 vaccines work well, but they are not 100 percent effective. Some people may get COVID-19 even if they’ve been vaccinated. All employees should continue to:
- Wear masks
- Stay at least 6 feet (or 2 meters) away from others
- Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated spaces
- Wash hands often
- Keep WA Notify enabled
- How long does protection from the COVID-19 vaccine last?
We don’t know yet how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. However, we do know that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If an employee gets COVID-19, they risk giving it to other employees who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.
- If an employee already had COVID-19 and recovered, do they still need to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends anyone who previously had COVID-19 to get the vaccine.
If employees previously had COVID-19, they are still recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine. They might have some protection (called natural immunity), but we don't know how long natural immunity might last.
Employees who currently have COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until they feel better and their isolation period is finished, if possible.
Employees who were recently exposed to COVID-19 should also wait to get the vaccine until after their quarantine period, if they can safely quarantine away from other people. If there is a high risk they could infect others, they may be vaccinated during their quarantine period to prevent spreading the disease.
- Who is paying for the COVID-19 vaccines?
The federal government provides the vaccine at no cost to all people living in the United States. Vaccination providers may get reimbursed for vaccine administration fees by a patient’s public or private insurance company, or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. No one should be charged out of pocket costs or receive a bill from a vaccine provider for the COVID-19 vaccine administration fee.
- Where can employees find available vaccine?
Many local pharmacies are receiving additional supply from the government through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program (FRPP). You can find a location near you by visiting www.VaccineFinder.org.
- Should I stagger vaccination schedules for employees to avoid worker shortages due to vaccine side effects?
It’s a good idea if you can. Most side effects are mild (tiredness, headache, and muscle pain) and last one to two days. However, some people may get a fever and need to miss work. For vaccines that need two doses, side effects are often worse after the second dose. You may want to distribute this visual guide to employees so they can understand what symptoms are a reaction to the vaccine, or actual COVID-19 illness.
Tips and considerations:
- Schedule the vaccine clinic on a Friday if your company is on a Monday to Friday schedule
- Encourage employees to get the vaccine before their scheduled days off
- Stagger vaccination for employees in the same job category or area of a facility
- Encourage employees who have a fever to stay home from work
- Can my employees choose which type of vaccine to get?
All vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization, regardless of brand. If you host a clinic at your workplace, you will likely only have one type of vaccine available. If employees are interested in getting a different vaccine, they can visit www.CovidVaccineWA.org for a list of vaccine locations near them. They can filter their search by vaccine type to find the best fit. Some vaccines require 2 doses spread out a few weeks apart. Be sure to schedule another clinic to get employees back for their second dose and remind staff to complete the two-dose series for full protection.
- Is there any liability for our organization if there are side effects or adverse effects to the vaccine?
The vaccine is available under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration. For vaccines under EUA, organizations are free from liability under the Public Readiness and Preparedness (PREP) Act, and injuries can be claimed through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).
- What information should I give employees before vaccination?
You or the vaccine clinic should give the following information to each employee who intends on getting vaccinated:
- Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson - Janssen)
- (Optional) Vaccinate WA Getting Vaccinated for COVID-19 fact sheet (PDF)
- (Optional) Behavioral Health Tips for Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine (PDF)
- V-safe information sheet (CDC)
- Vaccine record card (provided by the vaccine clinic)
- Can we vaccinate employees who live in another state?
Yes, all employees eligible can get vaccinated.
Resources and Materials
Washington State Department of Health
- COVID-19 vaccination verification – types of proof
- COVID-19 vaccine resources & recommendations for printable materials
- COVID-19 vaccine partner toolkit for digital media (videos, social media)
- COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Guide to Support Community-led Vaccination Efforts (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)
- Office of the Governor: Vaccine requirement frequently asked questions
- Health Action Alliance: Quick Start Guide toolkit to strengthen the business response to COVID-19 and support vaccination efforts
- Washington State Department of Labor & Industries: Requirements and Guidance for Preventing COVID-19 (PDF)