Will 'full approval' of COVID vaccines lead to employer mandates?

FDA could be 'significant pull factor'
Posted at 4:22 PM, Aug 23, 2021

CINCINNATI — Some of Cincinnati's largest employers are holding fast to policies that encourage but don't require vaccinations, even as COVID-19 infection rates rise and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants full approval for COVID-19 vaccines like Pfizer Inc.’s two-shot treatment, Comirnaty.

Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by job-search engine shows employers are inching toward vaccine mandates nationwide.

Economist AnnElizabeth Konkel analyzed Indeed job postings from Aug 1-7. She discovered a 90% increase since July in the number of job postings that included language requiring vaccinations.

Although the share of job postings that mention vaccination requirements is still less than 1% of all jobs offered on Indeed, Konkel said significant increases happened across multiple sectors, including software development, marketing, education, management and accounting.

“This likely will be a trend that increases,” Konkel said. “The public health experts are telling us that every time people gather, especially if they’re unvaccinated, there is an increased risk. Employers across a variety of sectors are trying to mitigate that risk by now requiring vaccinations.”

Konkel plans to run the same analysis in early September. She expects the FDA’s full approval of Pfizer (and perhaps other vaccines) will lead to a spike in vaccine requirements.

“I really think it is a substantial pull factor for employers that might have been on the fence to say, ‘Now we feel comfortable writing this into the job description,’” Konkel said.

WCPO contacted four large employers in late June and again Monday to see if their policies had changed in the last two months. They have not.

“As of today, vaccinations are voluntary, though highly encouraged,” said Procter & Gamble Co. spokesman Patrick Blair. “Vaccination status, however, is required. Understanding accurate vaccination status helps us define data-based safety protocols to keep our workplaces safe.”

Western & Southern Financial Group's response was similar.

“We are still strongly encouraging our associates to receive the vaccine but not requiring them,” said Sheila Veits Berding for Western & Southern.

Fifth Third Bank has made no changes since June, when it revealed a financial incentive to encourage vaccinations. Employees can get 600 points in its corporate wellness program.

“That’s the equivalent of what is given annually for dental and vision visits combined,” said Fifth Third spokesman Ed Loyd.

The Kroger Co. has not yet responded to questions about changes to its vaccine policy, but spokeswoman Erin Rolfes told WCPO in June: “Kroger is not requiring associates to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but we are strongly encouraging both associates and customers to receive it and curb the virus’ spread. To further encourage the health and safety of our associates, we are offering a one-time payment of $100 to those who receive all required COVID-19 vaccine doses.”