The discovery, testing and mass deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine are welcome developments in potentially ending the Coronavirus pandemic. A safe and widely available vaccine will also allow employees to return to the physical workplace. The benefits of an inoculated (and presumably safe and healthy) workforce are obvious.
Employees immune from COVID-19 will experience fewer absences because they are healthy and so are the people that they care for (or that care for them). Offices and other facilities will avoid pandemic-related closures and disruptions associated with deep cleaning and other infection control measures.
Inoculated individuals will be able to travel and participate in service, customer and other people-facing positions without fear of becoming ill or perpetuating an outbreak and making others ill. And while less obvious, incidents of mental health disorders and other very real but debilitating anxiety-related illnesses should wane in the face of actual progress in fighting the pandemic.
If a fully or near fully inoculated workforce could materially reduce and even eliminate the direct threat the pandemic poses to the workplace, it seems natural to implement a mandatory vaccination program as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available – after health care workers, first responders and others at high risk are vaccinated – to ensure employee health and safety.