Some business leaders want to ask their employees to take Covid-19 vaccines.
Seventy-two percent of current and recent CEOs of major companies were marking openness to vaccine orders, according to an opinion poll held Tuesday at a high-profile summit with the Yale CEO Leadership Institute.
The broad question did not specify whether the mandate would apply to all employees or just those who were required to work close to customers and colleagues.
Several CEOs pointed out that such an order has not been put in place at their companies and they want to see how early rounds of vaccinations go. Companies may also be willing to ask employees to take vaccines until they are fully approved by the FDA. Last week, the group issued an emergency use permit for the Pfizer vaccine.
The debate comes as health authorities try to reassure the public about the safety of vaccines and how the American Corporation will take a more vocal stance on crucial issues including climate change.
“The open level was open to the idea of prescriptions for vaccines,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, founder of the Yale CEO Leadership Institute.
‘Too early to say’
The Yale summit included business leaders from major U.S.-based companies, including Walmart, Goldman Sachs and eBay.
“It’s too early to tell,” said American Airlines CEO Doug Parker at the summit. “Let the vaccines spread, see what the uptake is… Ultimately, we all need to make the best decision for our individual companies.”
Parker said some countries may need vaccines before airlines can even enter the country.
MetLife CEO Michel Khalaf said his focus now is on ensuring employees have access to vaccines.
“Down the road, we can decide whether or not to order,” Khalaf said at a Yale event. “For now, it’s too early to say we should prescribe a vaccine.”
Others believe that vaccine prescriptions go a step too far.
“Industry has a major role to play in helping emphasize the importance of vaccines,” Mark Weinberger, former CEO of EY and director of MetLife and Johnson & Johnson, told CNN Business. “But to say that you are going to be shot if you are scared to death is vaccinated, that is a difficult situation for Chiefs to take.”
Are vaccination orders legal?
Legal experts say companies can ask their employees to get vaccinated. Some jobs already have such requirements. For example, hospitals may require staff to vaccinate against influenza or hepatitis B vaccines.
“Employers have the right to set workplace health and safety conditions,” said Dorit Reiss, professor of law at the University of California, Hastings.
However, there are limits to these orders. For example, Reiss said companies may have to provide employees with exemptions or accommodation for medical or religious reasons.
Another question is whether vaccines are needed if they have not yet been fully blessed by regulators yet.
“There is some legal uncertainty about whether you can order a vaccine under emergency authority,” Reiss said. “I suspect some employers will go ahead and order. He will be challenged and the courts could go one way. ”
Who did the command apply to?
Sonnenfeld said vaccination orders can help companies promote a safety culture.
“If a safe working environment is part of their culture and brand, more power to them,” he said.
David Gibbs, CEO of Pizza Hut and owner of Taco Bell, Yum Brands, said at a Yale summit that his company is now focused on implementing its policies regarding mascara consumption and hand washing.
“I don’t think we’ve made a decision about that,” Gibbs said of a vaccine mandate. “We’ll look at it.”
Howard Forman, founder of Yale ‘s MD / MBA program, said it is possible that the coming months will show that there are certain numbers for whom vaccines would not be suitable.
“You may have to stop these groups,” he said.
However, Forman said it makes sense for some companies to prescribe vaccines after full FDA approval.
“If you want your people to be in the office, on factory floors or in front of customers, you should want to make them as safe as possible,” Forman said in an interview. “Not all employees, except those who fit into departments where you can’t work from home all the time. ”