- 52 percent of Connecticut businesses support COVID-19 vaccine mandates in an August poll from the Connecticut Business & Industry Association
- The survey was issued before President Joe Biden’s recent proposal to mandate vaccinations for workers in companies with 100 or more employees
- Support for vaccine mandates has grown as a fourth wave of COVID-19 slows economic growth
Summary by Dirk Langeveld
COVID-19 vaccine mandates are favored by just over half of Connecticut companies in a survey issued by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. The poll was issued in August, before President Joe Biden announced a more sweeping initiative to mandate the vaccination of millions of workers at companies employing more than 100 people.
The CBIA survey found that 52 percent of Connecticut businesses responding said they were in favor of requiring their employees to get vaccinated. Thirty-seven percent were opposed, and 11 percent were unsure.
Only 24 percent of respondents said their workforce was fully vaccinated, with 42 percent saying between 75 percent and 99 percent had gotten the shot. Seventeen percent said between half and three-quarters of their workforce was vaccinated.
Under Biden’s proposal, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration will develop an emergency temporary standard mandating that businesses employing 100 or more people require their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing. The move marks a more aggressive effort to ramp up vaccinations following the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, a spike in COVID-19 infections driven by the Delta variant, and a flagging economic recovery associated with the new surge.
CBIA president Chris DiPentima said that while there is broad support for vaccines in the Connecticut business community, but requirement comes across as “somewhat misdirected” due to complications and compliance costs it creates for employers. He said the association has been handling inquiries on issues such as who pays for the tests of unvaccinated employees, how to balance the requirement with collective bargaining agreements, compliance timeframes, and what actions an employer should take if an employee refuses to get the vaccine or submit to weekly testing.
“Science has shown us that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and the best path to shutting down the coronavirus pandemic, getting people back to work, and rebuilding our economy,” said DiPentima. “However, there are real concerns that employers are now being placed in a very difficult position, essentially forced to make what should be personal decisions for their employees.”
Many larger companies began to mandate the vaccine among their own workforces following the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer doses. Biden’s proposal casts a wider net and would affect many small businesses, which are generally defined as having fewer than 500 employees.
The White House has also taken several steps to ramp up vaccination requirements, including an order for all federal employees as well as workers in health care facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding to get vaccinated. At the state level, Governor Ned Lamont has mandated vaccination for state employees as well as workers in K-12 schools, daycares, and state hospitals.
About two-thirds of Connecticut residents are fully vaccinated, one of the highest rates in the nation. However, the state has seen higher daily test positivity rates and hospitalizations amid the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.
The broader support for vaccine mandates marks a departure from business perceptions earlier this year, when the doses became widely available. At that point, companies were more supportive of incentivizing vaccination rather than requiring it. The recent increase in cases, along with concerns about further revenue losses due to consumer wariness, has led more business leaders to embrace the idea of vaccine mandates.