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Blue @ Work

The COVID-19 vaccination and your workforce

Here's what you need to know.

This article was last updated on May 11, 2023.

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world we once knew and flipped it upside down. That’s why, as your health insurance plan, we’ve done the heavy lifting to help you make the best decisions for your unique employee population.

Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

At the most basic level, vaccinations stimulate the immune system to create antibodies. That means, like the flu vaccine, once you and your employees get the COVID-19 vaccine, immunity is developed toward the disease without having to get it first. Vaccination is a safer way to build protection against the virus External Site and other variants because the vaccine does not infect you with the virus and does not carry the same risks as contracting the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is what makes vaccines so powerful.

Why you should encourage employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine

While there are several reasons you should encourage and educate your employees on the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine (once it’s more readily available), these are the most critical:

  1. It keeps your workforce healthy by preventing employees from becoming ill from COVID-19
  2. It reduces absence due to illness
  3. It builds immunity, safely
  4. It’s critically important to help end the pandemic

Nu Huynh on the COVID-19 vaccine necessity

Nu Huynh, executive director of the Iowa Asian Alliance, explains why the COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective tool to end the pandemic. Share this video with your employees to continue encouraging the importance of receiving the vaccine.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes, it's safe. So far, three vaccines have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) External Site for emergency use. All vaccines go through numerous clinical trials to evaluate their safety and effectiveness. Both COVID-19 vaccines are currently only authorized by the FDA for emergency use. The FDA has a lengthy approval process, meaning neither of the COVID-19 vaccines are currently approved by the FDA — they are operating under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

Once a vaccine is approved for use by the FDA, continued vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for possible side effects. After someone receives a COVID-19 vaccine, they will be monitored for any negative reactions. If a negative reaction occurs and it is determined that the reaction was due to the vaccination, experts review and then decide whether changes are needed in the vaccination recommendations.

Where is the vaccine available to my employees?

Your employees can be vaccinated at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, hospitals, and health centers contracted with the federal government.

Will it come at a cost to my business or my health plan members?

When it comes to cost for your health plan members, the COVID-19 vaccine and its administration will be covered at no out-of-pocket cost to members as an ACA preventative service, if applicable to your health plan.

When it comes to the cost to your business, it depends on your funding type. Administration of the vaccine billed by providers could be passed on to your plan if you are a self-funded group.

Can I make employees get a COVID-19 vaccine? What if they decline?

This is where things can get tricky — especially if you have an employee who has certain medical conditions or religious beliefs. We recommend reviewing guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) External Site for more information on requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.

If you have additional questions, or are seeking more information, contact your authorized Wellmark account representative, or email us at Send Email.