Louise Short, MD, MSc, National Clinical Leader

As COVID-19 clinical trials move closer to FDA approval, and the nation readies itself for a vaccine(s), employers are starting to think through how to best prepare operationally and support their employees from both an education and access perspective. This paper examines at a high level the science and process associated with vaccine development and approval, and identifies the areas employer plan sponsors will need to contemplate as the vaccine becomes widely available.

The Vaccine and Employer Economy

Never in history have employers realized how much public health impacts their bottom line. We are coexisting with the virus until we get to herd immunity, and that will take time. According to a recent McKinsey and Co study, the highest probability of reaching herd immunity in the U.S. is in the third or fourth quarter of 2021, however that timing could shift. Our on-going coexistence with the virus means continuing precautions, possible shutdowns and curtailing of business and social and cultural activity, and economic suffering for millions. Barriers to developing herd immunity include not only the challenges associated with producing an effective and safe vaccine, but also a growing lack of confidence from the American public that they will take the vaccine when it becomes available. To provide a sense of the effect the press and information on vaccines has had on the general public, the Pew Research Center data below shows the willingness of the American public over the last several months to take a COVID vaccine.

How Willing Are People To Take A Vaccine?

According to a Pew survey in May of this year, 72% of adults were willing to take a COVID vaccine. That number dropped to 51% in September’s polling. In May 2020, 27% of people surveyed said they probably or would NOT take the vaccine. That number climbed to 49% last month.

Why? Most likely confusion about vaccine information, the number of vaccines being developed, information about the approval process and fast tracking of that process, and conflicting messages about how much that process will be modified by the White House and/or the FDA to get a vaccine to market quickly. Employers will likely need to play a role in the education around the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes widely available.

The Employer Response

As clinical trials wrap up and the distribution preparations begin, what is the employer’s responsibility and how can an employer prepare? Click below to continue reading.

Please be advised that any and all information, comments, analysis, and/or recommendations set forth above relative to the possible impact of COVID-19 on potential insurance coverage or other policy implications are intended solely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal or medical advice. As an insurance broker, we have no authority to make coverage decisions as that ability rests solely with the issuing carrier. Therefore, all claims should be submitted to the carrier for evaluation. The positions expressed herein are opinions only and are not to be construed as any form of guarantee or warranty. Finally, given the extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, comments above do not take into account any applicable pending or future legislation introduced with the intent to override, alter or amend current policy language.

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