Vaccination considerations

Published:  03 February, 2021

I ’m not quite sure how you would describe the first few days of 2021 a lot would depend on your perspective of whether the cup is half empty or half full. But whatever your view the extremely positive start to the UK’s rollout of the vaccination programme against COVID-19 along with the EU-UK deal being passed gives hope of optimism for the year ahead and the return to some normality for both individuals and businesses.

But as the vaccine programme is rolled out with obvious prioritisation given to those most vulnerable, Independent global health & safety assurance specialist, Lloyd’s Register, has urged companies to review policies before the vaccine is widely available to avoid potential legal and ethical issues. Among the key considerations during this critical period are potential privacy and discrimination implications, as well as personal health, religious and ethical objections.

According to Lloyd’s Register, the vaccine is not solely an issue of science for employers, which face the very real prospect of staff refusing to be vaccinated.

According to a survey from the University of Hamburg, 40% of respondents across seven European countries are hesitant or unwilling to get the vaccine, while Ipsos found that nearly a third of Japanese respondents have said they would choose not to get inoculated for the coronavirus.

The dilemma for employers is even greater for those that operate in factories and plants where inoculation will be key if staff are to safely return to the workplace.

In addition to workplace policies, employers are being warned to carefully consider the legal requirements if operating in more than one country. Understanding legal frameworks will be vital, particularly if countries plan to introduce a form of compulsion, such as socalled vaccine passports. This understanding will be crucial for any business operating in multiple countries, including joint ventures, as a group-wide approach may not work.

While it seems unlikely we will see many countries make the vaccine compulsory – simply due to the lack of legal powers to do so – some countries do have this power and have indicated consideration of a compulsory Covid-19 vaccine.

Plans must therefore be put in place now for every eventuality and businesses should seriously start the process of reviewing policies in order not to be caught out.

Aaron Blutstein, Editor

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