Vaccine or Test: The American Worker’s New Decision

In a recent push to help bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control especially as the Delta variant continues to spread, President Biden recently announced new rules and guidance as part of the White House’s plan to fight the virus. One of the new guidelines states that large entertainment venues, including sports stadiums and arenas, concert halls, and theatres, will require proof of vaccination or a negative test result for entry. However, a majority of the updates have focused on vaccinations. Previously, the White House had announced that vaccinations were required for federal workers, as well as contractors who do regular business with contractors. This new mandate ultimately affects approximately 2.5 million citizens. There have also been vaccination requirements implemented at hospitals and health care settings that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, therefore requiring a further 17 million people to be vaccinated. In these settings, the option of regular testing to provide a negative test result is no longer permitted.

However, some of the strongest and most sweeping guidance has recently been announced. Last week, President Biden said that a plan that requires employers with 100 or more employees to either be fully vaccinated or to undergo weekly testing is currently under development. This new mandate, which covers the private sector, will affect approximately 80 million workers in the United States. Unlike the previous mandates for federal and certain medical workers, the option to remain unvaccinated remains if an employee can prove a religious or medical exemption. In those cases, the employee will be required to provide a negative test result at least once a week. Some people are questioning the legality of such a mandate. However, OSHA, the plan’s developer, has the ability to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard, which allows the organization to create a ruling if it finds sufficient evidence that something in a workplace poses a significant threat to employees. With everything that has happened, OSHA has determined COVID-19 to be a significant threat to employee safety, and therefore has the ability to create this rule

For companies with employees who choose to remain unvaccinated but instead receive weekly testing, coordinating the testing can be tricky. Even trickier is determining who will pay for the testing. As of right now, it seems that the decision is up to the employer whether to cover the costs of the testing or to make the employee pay.  OccuMed Occupational Healthworks offers a variety of COVID-19 testing options that are ideal for the workplace. By offering a number of testing services, we can help prevent the spread of the virus in your school, university, workplace and ultimately your community. Currently, we offer a walk-in clinic (by appointment) at our Canton, MA location for both PCR screenings and drop-off testing. With our on-site testing option, OccuMed can alleviate your team of any operational burden. While we offer traditional screening methods for on-site testing, we also now offer pooled testing. This method is a cost-effective way to test a large group at once. All samples are tested together and if it comes back negative, it can be assumed that everyone who participated is negative.  Conversely, if it comes back positive, everyone who participated must be tested individually.

If you have any questions or would like more information about how our COVID-19 testing services can help your company as this mandate takes effect, contact us today by email or by phone at 877-399-1698!