- By publicly supporting the vaccine rollout, corporate America could help get more people vaccinated.
- Walmart, Disney, Uber, Lyft, NFL and others help with vaccine administration and training.
- The Biden administration has also partnered with business groups to encourage vaccines and wearing masks.
- Visit the Insider business section for more stories.
Over the past few weeks, Walmart has administered approximately half a million COVID-19 vaccines from its facilities nationwide.
Mass vaccination sites have opened at Disneyland, California, and at Yankee Stadium in New York, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell offered all 30 of the league̵
Uber and Lyft help ferry people to their vaccine appointments, and Target provides paid free time for its employees who want to get the vaccine.
These efforts represent a new push among America’s business leaders at a crucial moment in time: their economic future depends on people getting the vaccine.
When the vaccine started last year, a predictable problem arose in the United States: vaccine skepticism.
Scientific evidence shows that vaccines are safe and effective, but there are still some Americans who believe otherwise. According to the Gallup poll, the proportion of those who believe vaccines are safe and important to administer has fallen by 10% in the last 20 years.
There is a segment of the U.S. population that is completely against vaccines – a November Gallup poll found that 12% of respondents “do not trust vaccines in general.”
However, there is a significant percentage who are particularly skeptical about the coronavirus vaccine, citing hasty development or safety as reasons for not wanting to get the shot. The same poll showed that 42% of the population said they would not take the coronavirus vaccine if it was free and available to them compared to 58% who said they would.
As Insiders Kelly McLaughlin and Yelena Dzhanova reported last year, experts have sounded the alarm that anti-vaccination problems could slow the end of the pandemic, as it could lead to gaps in herd immunity. On the other hand, getting the vaccine could massively reduce the risk of infection: A study in the UK published earlier this week suggested that Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine reduce the risk by more than 70%.
All of this puts the United States in a challenging position: The vaccine is safe and effective, but many Americans do not believe it. The slow rollout of the vaccine combined with this hesitation means that the United States does not reach herd immunity very quickly. It leaves companies like theme parks and stadiums and restaurants still closed or only partially open – and far away from anything close to a recovery.
But there is hope: By loudly and publicly supporting the vaccine, American business can help create a return to normalcy.
The vaccine will be a ‘game-changer’ for many companies
Some CEOs are already aware of this. Walmart CEO John Furner told NBC News’ today that the company is currently running to administer 13 million doses a month and that he believes Walmart can play an important role in communities that might not otherwise have an easy time. way to get the vaccine.
Walmart also provides vaccine training to its employees and publicly supports the benefits of the vaccine.
“We also think it’s important that you know that friends or family or peers or others who have received the vaccine are open about it,” Furner said in an interview with Today.
Furner said he intends to get the vaccine when it’s his turn and that he encourages his staff to get it as well.
Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines – another company that depends on society returning to a certain sense of normality – said during a staff town hall last month that he not only supports the vaccine, he believes it should be mandatory for United employees.
“The worst thing I think I’ll ever do in my career is the letters I’ve written to the surviving family members of colleagues that we’ve lost to coronavirus,” Kirby said, according to CNBC’s Leslie Josephs. “And so for me, because I trust the safety of the vaccine – and I recognize that it is controversial – I think the right thing to do is for United Airlines and other companies to require the vaccines and make them mandatory.”
United have since said they are considering a mandatory vaccination policy but have not yet implemented one.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced during the company’s fiscal earnings call for the first quarter earlier this month that the company had administered 100,000 vaccine doses at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, which has not been open to the public since March last year.
The closure of the park, along with the suspension of Disney’s cruise business and closure of other parks around the world, has had a serious impact on Disney’s business: The company said during its earnings call that operating revenues from its park experience and product business fell “significantly” a deficit of $ 119 million.
Chapek said that if vaccines were available to anyone who wanted them by April this year, it would be a “game changer” for Disney that gave people “the confidence that they need to return to the parks.”
Chapek stopped short to fully approve getting the vaccine, but his message was clear: The vaccine is what is needed for Disney parks to return to any level of normalcy.
A new Biden administration partnership
Yet a handful of executives who support the need for a vaccine do not equate to an overall push from U.S. companies to get the country vaccinated or even to promote basic health and safety measures. Andy Slavitt, a White House pandemic adviser, told The New York Times’ David Leonhardt this week that it has something to do with the Trump administration’s coronavirus response.
Slavitt said that what companies can do now is help with messaging. Masks and the vaccine have been politicized, but employers may break down some of these barriers, as the message may be received differently from your boss than from a politician. He told The Times that companies should ask employees to wear a mask, avoid crowds and be vaccinated when it is their turn.
And now we may be starting to see more companies speak up. The Biden administration on Friday announced a new partnership with business executives and groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers, as well as executives from the black, Latino and Asian businesses.
The partnership aims to reach companies across the country and encourage them to promote the value of getting the vaccine and wearing a mask. The new partnership will also encourage companies to offer employees bonuses or paid free time to get vaccine and mandate masks and social distance on their companies.
While the government does not mandate if and how companies get involved, it will provide clarity on how they can help – and it appears that there is great interest among US companies.
“We have been overwhelmed by outreach from companies that say, ‘We want to help, we want to help, we want to help,'” Slavitt told The Times. “What a missed opportunity the first year with this virus was.”