- Industries across the country are beginning to impose the COVID-19 vaccine, sometimes firing unvaccinated workers.
- However, the proportion of redundant workers to vaccinated and employed workers is extremely small.
- Without alternative methods of compliance such as regular testing, however, industries risk a shortage of staff.
Major players in the aerospace industry, medical industry and education system have each threatened to fire employees who refuse the COVID-19 vaccination. So far, the vaccination mandates have been an exciting success in increasing the number of vaccinations.
And while it’s easy to get caught up in the headlines about dozens or hundreds of employees fired from a large company for not complying with vaccination mandates, it’s more important to look at the larger proportion of employees who were does not fired and complied with the rules in the first place.
Eg. The Houston Methodist, one of Houston’s largest medical systems, announced it was firing 153 of its employees for failing to get the plug by June. And while a group of its fired employees have been outspoken about the decision, comparing Methodist’s vaccination demands to Nazi concentration camps, the vast majority of its staff base has been vaccinated: The 153 fired employees make up less than one percent of Methodist’s 24,947 employees.
The Houston Methodist is not alone.
Novant Health, a hospital system in North Carolina, previously announced similar vaccination requirements for its employees. While the company said it had fired 375 of its employees, it is still a small amount for Novant Health as a whole: according to the system’s spokesman, it is only about 1% of the company’s total workforce.
At the request of the Biden administration, several airlines have also begun rolling out a vaccination mandate to their employees, but United Airlines were the first to actually fire employees who were out of compliance with the rule. While United Airlines originally said it planned to lay off 600 of its employees, it ended up firing only 320 or less than half a percent of its 67,000 employees.
Vaccine mandates are also beginning to address local education systems. As of Monday, elementary school teachers in New York City must be vaccinated to work and have offered some resistance.
The New York Department of Education said about 95% of its staff have already been vaccinated with the United Federation of Teachers, which says the number could be as high as 97% of the city’s 78,000 teachers, meaning there are less than 3,000 teachers in the city that is out of conformity.
Mandates pose an inherent risk of staff shortages
Company-wide vaccine mandates have been shown to increase the organization’s vaccine numbers, but can cost a price: If enough workers persevere, it can be detrimental to the functioning of the company or industry.
While United Airlines has not had a hard time getting its employees vaccinated, the American Pilots Association recently warned that the industry could see deficiencies if there are no “alternative ways to comply,” such as regular testing.
School districts are also at risk when imposing vaccines. But at least New York City is already on top of it: New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said Friday that the system has more than enough vaccinated substitute teachers ready to cater for any unvaccinated full-time employees.
Despite the high proportion of vaccinated staff, the decision to impose COVID-19 vaccines on medical systems carries major risks: Many healthcare facilities are already facing staff shortages due to burnout, violent patients and poor working conditions, leading to fewer vacant patient beds and longer waiting time for patients.
Medical staff were in short supply even before vaccination mandates began, which means that access to high-quality healthcare can become even more difficult if enough layoffs occur and the shortage worsens.
President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate for federal employees, contractors, and companies with more than 100 employees begins Nov. 23, giving ample time for unvaccinated workers to be vaccinated before the consequences are trained.
The United States administers an average of approximately 741,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses each day, according to the New York Times’ vaccination tracking. About two-thirds of adults in the country are fully vaccinated.