From social distancing to working remotely, Canadians have made significant sacrifices since the pandemic was officially proclaimed in March 2020.
Now, in the wake of nearly 1 million cases, more than 22,000 deaths and a host of unprecedented social, economic, and mental health challenges, there’s finally reasons to feel optimistic.
As we close in on a full year of living with COVID-19:
The federal government’s comprehensive immunization plan is underway
Vaccination of high-risk groups has begun
General immunization for all Canadians is expected to commence in April
While the government works toward completing its COVID-19 vaccine rollout by the end of 2021, many employers are wondering how they can support the nation’s immunization campaign.
Reliable information key to immunization response
Experts suggest that at least 70% of the population will need to be immune to stop the community spread of COVID-19. Overcoming vaccine distrust, however, remains a major hurdle.
While many view vaccination uptake as integral to this year’s return-to-work strategies:
Some 20-30% of Canadians are considered “vaccine hesitant”
An additional 5-10% are strongly opposed to vaccines
As an employer, it’s worth noting that evidence supports an association between vaccine knowledge and acceptance. Some vaccine-hesitant individuals, for example, are simply less informed and less likely to seek out the information they need.
At the same time, while many employees want access to factual, reliable health information, 46% of Canadians say COVID-19 has made it more difficult to access healthcare.
So, if you haven’t already, it may be time to consider what you can do as a business leader to support vaccine literacy and confidence among your employees.
How to support your employees’ vaccine knowledge
According to the World Economic Forum, more than 60% of employees say they would accept their employer’s recommendation to take a COVID-19 vaccine. A poll conducted on behalf of the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS), meanwhile, found that 80% of Canadians would agree to get vaccinated if their employer required them to do so.
For the time being at least, the Canadian government is not making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory. And requiring or even strongly encouraging that employees be immunized can be a tricky road to navigate, legally speaking.
What you can do as an employer, however, is keep your employees and their families informed about Canada’s immunization program over the weeks and months to come.
Here are a few points to keep in mind while you do:
Understanding and respecting your employees’ attitudes and beliefs about vaccinations is essential
You may want to take advantage of technology to conduct anonymous surveys, monitor vaccine hesitancy, gather data, and provide employees with up-to-date, personalized information.
Sharing accurate information from trusted sources may alleviate vaccine hesitancy
In addition to referencing government and public health websites as part of your education and engagement plan, consider identifying respected company and local community leaders who are demonstrating top-down adherence to Canada’s vaccination campaign.
Providing access to reliable health information may optimize vaccination uptake
Make sure your information communications are transparent, agile, ongoing, and sensitive, and that they revolve around factual data related to vaccine safety, benefits, and efficacy.
The federal government has stated that, until extensive immunization is achieved in Canada, public health measures will remain essential to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
In the meantime, taking a proactive infodemic management role - and continuing to prioritize your holistic corporate wellness strategy with the help of an integrated health platform like Dialogue – may be your best bet for helping employees make the right health decisions.