The New Normal: Unvaccinated and Vaccinated Employees in the Workforce

By: Reagan Williams

(Source: Pexels, Tima Miro)


It is becoming the norm to read stories about people getting fired due to their refusal in taking the COVID-19 vaccine. The majority of these news stories are coming from the healthcare, education, government, and airline industry sectors of the workforce. In some instances, individuals are seeing their careers come to an end in their refusal to get vaccinated. In September, President Joe Biden announced vaccine rules that applied to almost 100 million Americans in the workforce. His announcement included vaccine mandates for healthcare workers, educators, postal workers, government employees, and businesses with 100 or more employees, which could have massive impacts on the workforce.


Currently, there is only 56% of the population that have been fully vaccinated, over 184,000,000 million people. Industry leaders within different sectors are worried about shortages in particular, in healthcare at hospitals and clinics across the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they report 1.8 million health care openings as of July 2021. This number is up from 1.1 million job openings from a year ago. Workforce disruptions are expected in large states, but smaller communities will be impacted that have lower vaccination rates. However, states are supporting the mandates and private health systems are imposing their own mandates i.e, North Carolina’s Novant Health fired 175 employees. Hospital executives accustomed to worker shortages, strikes and chronic staffing gaps feel that enforcing the vaccine mandates is the tradeoff to save lives.


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Despite certain sectors accounting for most of the firing of unvaccinated workers- it’s not over. Other industries in various sectors will be impacted again soon, industry insiders are saying. Companies in other industry sectors that are considering vaccine mandates are already experiencing a shortage i.e. retailers, restaurants, hotels, and other service-oriented employers. States are taking a stand like Connecticut where Gov. Ned Lamont is requiring workers to either be vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests. Connecticut’s solution is an option to replace workers who fail to comply by using the National Guard to fill these roles.


If you get fired because you refuse to get vaccinated, do not expect to collect unemployment. Most states have definitions around the word “cause” in regards to firing someone. These vaccine mandates will fall under another workplace policy supported by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Job postings are reflecting the mandate imposed by the Biden administration that states the requirement of a Covid-19 vaccination. LinkedIn job postings have noted that this requirement has jumped over 20 times in the last two months, according to Forbes.


(Source: Pexels, Amina Fillkins)


There are more than 100 big companies that have implemented a vaccine mandate for some of their U.S. staff, but the requirements vary across industries. The government and companies had hoped to see a return to the office after Labor Day, but things have not gone as anticipated. Instead, unvaccinated workers in numerous groups are following the tradition of the Labor Movement with protests. Groups are protesting around the country from Oregon firefighters, R.I. healthcare workers, school bus drivers, and Republicans. Whether you are or are not vaccinated, COVID-19 and the Delta Variant have changed our lives and created a “new normal” as the pandemic continues.


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