How business is battling employee vaccine denialism and doubt

Mayor Bill de Blasio bumps forearms with Tara Easter, a registered nurse at NYU-Langone Hospital. Credit: Kevin Hagen/AP
Mayor Bill de Blasio bumps forearms with Tara Easter, a registered nurse at NYU-Langone Hospital. Credit: Kevin Hagen/AP

Across industries, business leaders are turning to all-hands staff meetings, video memos and other workplace forums to address skepticism about the Covid-19 vaccine and encourage employees to get it when they can.

Food-services and facilities-management company Sodexo is asking managers to listen for signs of vaccine hesitancy among staff and launching a social-media campaign to encourage employees to get the shots. Benchmark Senior Living LLC, an operator of assisted-living facilities, is blasting “myth-buster” emails to its workforce and turning on-site vaccination clinics into mini parties, complete with cake and games, to lend a celebratory air. Technology company VMware Inc. is discussing bringing in doctors to answer staff questions about the vaccine in virtual company meetings.

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Getting a critical mass of employees vaccinated is crucial to reopening offices and returning workplaces to a semblance of normal, executives say. Yet overcoming vaccine skepticism could prove tough. A recent Siena College Research Institute survey of New York state residents found more than a quarter said they don’t plan to get the shot.

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“How do you cancel all of that horrible, negative messaging that seems to infect social media these days?” says Simon Scrivens, a senior vice president at Sodexo who chairs the company’s medical advisory council. “We’ve got a responsibility as a large employer.”

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