While a vaccine mandate may not be enforceable by the government in the US, private companies are trying to make sure that the Omicron variant doesn’t spread through their workplace. The aim is to help them to return to some kind of normality after a challenging two years of remote work.
The latest company to announce a mandate for booster shots is technology behemoth Apple. The company will require employees to get their three COVID-19 shots within four weeks once they are eligible.
Those who have never had a vaccine will have to provide negative COVID-19 rapid antigen tests before entering Apple’s workplace when this rule is implemented on 24 January.
Equally, those who don’t get booster shots within four weeks of becoming eligible will be required to do the same from 15 February. This gives staff relatively a small window to comply, although many office workers for the company are going to continue working at home anyway.
Why Apple introduced a mandate
In a memo picked up by The Verge, Apple stated: “Due to waning efficacy of the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines and the emergence of highly transmissible variants such as Omicron, a booster shot is now part of staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination to protect against severe disease.”
Apple has long struggled with getting its employees back to the office and has pushed back a return date on numerous occasions. Undoubtedly, this new measure is designed to make offices safer and protect retail employees who have a higher risk of getting COVID-19.
This change in policy reflects Apple’s approach to the pandemic. In 2021, the company chose not to mandate vaccines, but those who did not get vaccinated were subject to daily tests.
While mandates are one way to get workers safely back to shared spaces, there are ways to incentivize staff to get the vaccine without sweeping or forcing change. Notably, Amazon has offered US warehouse workers $40 if they get a booster.
The best way to make sure staff are keeping themselves safe is yet to be determined. With that said, it is clear that the giants of the technology world have plenty of ideas of how to encourage vaccine uptake.