How extensive is the vaccine roll out in your jurisdiction? How quickly will advisors and their clients need to understand the key questions involved with the vaccine as a workplace panacea?

Rebecca Torrey

Partner, The Torrey Firm

The vaccine rollout is extensive here. Across the US and in California anyone over the age of 12 can get vaccinated, and there are vaccines available. They initially were distributed through government centres, then through large pharmacies and now almost every pharmacy in the country has access to vaccines. The full vaccination rate is somewhere over 50% in the US, but with a lot of regional differences.

California’s vaccination rate is high and has a similar attitude to vaccination as many of the countries in the EU. Other parts of the US have relatively low rates of vaccination, with the lowest numbers being in the southeast, probably cultural and political reasons are behind those low vaccination rates. The vaccines are expected to be approved for ages two to 11 by September 2021.

People are anticipating that schools will be back in person in the fall. Many colleges and universities in California require vaccines for matriculation and have rolled out large vaccination programmes for students who were on campus during the last few months of the school year.

What is most striking in the US is that there are a wide variety of incentives to encourage people to be vaccinated. For example, in California there has been a lottery for people who have received more than one vaccine with 10 awards of $1.5 million dollars being given out to the lucky winners. For people who haven’t been vaccinated yet, even if they don’t qualify for the lottery they can receive a $50.00 dollar grocery card if they get vaccinated. This is an amazing incentive.

Regarding issues in the workplace, the most common question I get at the moment is whether employers can require vaccinations of their employees. There’s been some guidance that has come out on a national level. And the answer is that with respect to discrimination laws employers can require vaccination of employees, but they need to accommodate people who raise objections based on religion, disability, or medical reasons.