More unvaccinated workers will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and mask wearing. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration published the new rule requiring companies with more than 100 employees, both full- and part-time, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or get weekly tests.
“We think that this will help us in terms of making sure everyone is protected in the community,” Dr. Shunling Tsang, Riverside County Deputy Public Health Officer. “The more employees there are, there’s more risk due to exposure.”
Previously, individuals with specific occupations were required to get the COVID vaccination, and now the federal government says the number of people you work with is also an important factor in keeping the workplace safe.
The new rule isn’t a vaccine mandate though, as employers will not be required to enforce vaccinations, but health officials continue to say those who are eligible should get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We do encourage everyone to get vaccinated whether at a 10 person or 1,00 person shop, we do know that vaccines work and it’s stressing the importance of vaccinations in order to protect everyone,” said Dr. Tsang.
“The UFCW from the very beginning has been an advocate for getting the vaccine, however we do have an obligation to all of our members- vaccinated or not,” said Joe Duffle, President of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1167.
And some employers say this is the best option to keep everyone safe and respect each individual’s personal decision.
“Our goal is to create an environment that’s safe for everyone. Our goal is to make sure everyone is treated equally,” said Duffle. “If someone wants the vaccine they should be able to get it. If they don’t, then what are the reasonable guidelines around that? And under no circumstance do we feel that our employees or members should suffer a reduction or a loss as a result of that choice. We’re not looking at this from a political standpoint… It’s about having a healthy and safe community.”
Under this new rule, employees have until Jan. 4 to get the first dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, or the second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. For those who choose to opt out of getting the vaccine, they will have to get a weekly COVID-19 test and wear masks.