New Effort Emphasizes How Employers Can Play a Key Role in Helping Working Parents Get Their Children Vaccinated

As the Delta variant of the coronavirus becomes the dominant strain across the nation, public health experts and business groups are urging those who are unvaccinated to get vaccinated—this includes children who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. As part of a concerted campaign, these same groups are encouraging businesses to make it easier for parents to catch all children up on childhood vaccinations that may have been delayed by the pandemic.

The campaign was announced last week at a National Business Town Hall on Childhood Vaccinations, which featured a number of key health and business leaders, including CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who emphasized the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, which are currently approved for children 12 and older.

“Being vaccinated will allow kids to get back to the things they miss; in-person learning, sports activities, and more,” she said. “When our vaccination rates are higher, our families and our communities are safer and businesses can grow and thrive.”

She also spoke about the challenge of delayed vaccinations. “We [recently] learned that cumulative orders for vaccinations through the Vaccine for Children program are down by more than 12 million doses since the start of the pandemic,” she said. “Especially concerning are gaps for measles vaccine and other vaccines routinely recommended at 11 to 12 years of age including meningococcal and Tdap (the vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis).”

August is National Immunization Awareness month, created to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages, and August is a time when many children are returning to the classroom from the summer break. The coordinated campaign was led by the Health Action Alliance, where the CDC Foundation is a partner with other leading organizations. The campaign is aimed at elevating vaccine issues to business and encouraging them to take steps to ensure their employees have the support needed to get their children vaccinated.

The alliance has crafted several key recommendations for employers to consider in order to encourage and support their employees who choose to vaccinate their children including:

  • Provide paid time off for employees with children to attend vaccine appointments, care for children recovering from vaccine side effects, and catch up on well-child visits that may have been postponed during the pandemic.
  • Remove barriers associated with childhood vaccination by offering transportation, language support or internet access for scheduling appointments.
  • Connect families to free or discounted childcare if they need support managing care for multiple children during vaccine appointments.
  • Partner with local health departments to host on-site or near-site workplace vaccination clinics for employees and their families.
  • Offer employee incentives to encourage childhood vaccinations.
  • Sustain these policies when younger children become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, which is anticipated in late 2021 or early 2022.

In addition to the keynote address, CDC Foundation president and CEO Judy Monroe, MD, moderated a panel discussion with key business and public health leaders, including leaders from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose, and the White House COVID-19 Response Team.

“Together we’re so pleased to launch this initiative,” said Monroe. “This is an important and timely effort that will protect the health of our children and strengthen health equity.”

Employers can find additional resources including a toolkit with key messages, and facts about childhood vaccination here.

Candace Wheeler
Candace Wheeler is a communications officer for the CDC Foundation.