Vaccine Mandate: How to Prepare for Implementation

Court action earlier this week put the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for private employers on hold, but it's wise for businesses to move forward with an implementation policy while litigation is pending. 

On Nov. 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure each of their workers is fully vaccinated or tests for COVID-19 weekly. ​​O​​​​​n Nov. 6, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued a temporary stay blocking the policy. 

"Legal challenges to the ETS have been and will be made, but until these challenges are resolved, employers must prepare for compliance," advises SHRM in its How-to Guide on Complying with OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Emergency Temporary Standard.

Here are four ways to prepare:

1. Learn more about the policy. This New York Times article answers questions about the new OSHA rule. The FAQ discusses which employees are covered and what the rule means for remote workers. It also covers exemptions, the testing option, how enforcement will be handled, and more.

2. Determine employer coverage and vaccination status. SHRM explains why this determination is important: "Understanding how many unvaccinated workers an employer has will also help inform the best compliance approach for the organization. For example, an employer with only 10 unvaccinated workers might allow those employees to choose either vaccination or weekly testing, whereas a company with 100 unvaccinated workers may find the logistics of collecting weekly testing documentation too difficult and therefore decide not to offer the testing option."

3. Create written policies for compliance and exemptions. Make these policies readily available and communicate them often to employees, through regular email newsletters and/or printed items. Make your HR and other C-suite leaders available for questions about the policies.

4. Look to Vanderbilt Health Employer Solutions as an extension of your team. The Corporate Health and Wellness team offers COVID-19 vaccination services and asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. To learn more, call (615) 343–9520 or email