It’s time to revisit … or maybe just visit … your COVID-19 vaccination policy.

If you’re about to express your indignation about bringing politics into Keep the Joint Running, don’t. As has been pointed out in this space before, propositions that have been politicized are not necessarily propositions that are political.

Example: 98.9% of all COVID-19 cases that have resulted in mortality or hospitalization were contracted by unvaccinated individuals.

Just in case you’re having trouble classifying this statement, it is not political.

And it does suggest the text of what should be your COVID-19 vaccination policy:

All employees who:

  • Enter our facilities …
  • Enter a client’s facilities …
  • Perform any of their responsibilities face-to-face with colleagues regardless of location …

… must be fully vaccinated. Refusal to comply with this policy can result in termination or reassignment to a position all of whose duties can be performed remotely. If the result is reassignment the company reserves the right to adjust compensation to make it commensurate with the new position’s pay structure.

This policy applies to all employees and contractors, other than those who can perform all work remotely.

Understand, I’m among those who consider the quintessential element of American culture is that we’re all free to pretty much go to hell however we’d like. But I’m also among those who agree with John B. Finch that, “… your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins.”

But neither of these propositions is the driving force behind this vaccination policy.

The driving force is your responsibility as an employer to provide safe working conditions for everyone who works in your facilities. Every unvaccinated employee, even those wearing masks, constitutes a preventable hazard to every employee they come in contact with.

That includes vaccinated employees. While the approved vaccines have proven extraordinarily effective, in risk management terms they don’t prevent the disease perfectly. What they do is prevent it well and mitigate its effects among those who contract the virus.

So exposing even fully vaccinated employees to unvaccinated ones endangers them.

Another popular objection to mandatory vaccination is that the risks of vaccination aren’t known.

This is accurate, in the same sense that you don’t know if a piece of software you’ve relied on for the past year has undetected vulnerabilities. In both cases your confidence is limited to how well you know what risks to look for, and your ability to look for them.

What we know about the COVID-19 vaccines’ risks is that they are miniscule.

What we know about COVID-19’s risks is that the disease’s symptoms include death, severe debilitation, and months of everything you eat tasting like cardboard.

Requiring employees to be vaccinated doesn’t put them at risk. On balance it reduces their net risk.

But …

Employers are accustomed to having most of the power in their relationship with their employees, and if that’s your situation a policy such as the one recommended here might be workable.

But right now you have to strike a balance, because there’s a pretty good chance you have some otherwise valuable employees who, for one reason or another, refuse to be vaccinated.

So even if you like the policy I’ve described here, you’ll probably have to soften it to accommodate them.

Bob’s last word: If you’re concerned that a policy like this might create the impression that you’re endorsing a political party or governing philosophy, be reassured: even Fox Corporation has instituted a form of “vaccine passport.”

Regardless, please share your thoughts, and even better your company’s vaccination policy, with the KJR community by way of the Comments.

Bob’s sales pitch: On an entirely different subject, if you’re interested how to make IT process improvement initiatives successful, check out my most recent article on “The hard truth about IT process success.”