On August 23, the US Food & Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.
This approval comes on the heels of updated COVID-19 for guidance employers that was issued by OSHA on August 13 and means that many more employers will be grappling with the decision to mandate vaccinations or not. OSHA’s guidance, which preceded full FDA approval, now notably recommends the following:
- Employers should consider policies that would require workers to get vaccinated and require unvaccinated workers to undergo regular COVID-19 testing, wear masks and practice physical distancing.
- Fully vaccinated workers in areas of the country with substantial or high community transmission should wear masks to protect unvaccinated workers, vendors and customers. See the COVID-19 Integrated County View Data Tracker for updated metrics on our region.
- Fully vaccinated workers who experience a known close contact exposure to COVID-19 should wear masks for at least 14 days or until they receive a negative result for a COVID test taken at least three days after the known exposure.
While crafting a vaccination policy should include consultations with your counsel to ensure legal compliance, the Harvard Business Review, in an article from July that was later adopted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), outlined the following seven steps of a successful vaccination policy process:
- Establish an ethical framework and hierarchy;
- Conduct a risk-benefit analysis compliant with professional standards;
- Ensure that policies for religious and medical exemptions are consistent with state and local laws;
- Provide a robust educational campaign;
- Combat misinformation;
- Lead by example;
- Monitor the vaccination rates
The District of Columbia, along with Baltimore City and Montgomery, Prince George’s and Charles Counties in Maryland, currently have an indoor mask mandate still in force. The state of Virginia has not statewide mandate, nor do any of the Commonwealth’s counties at the time of this writing.
For more information, note that WANADA is regularly updating its COVID-19 resource page here and NADA has prepared a helpful guide titled FAQs: Dealership Health and Safety Concerns During a Pandemic.Download Bulletin PDF