Rather than forcing vaccines, companies should make it difficult to resist COVID vaccination
COVID-19 vaccination rates remain too low because we are doing it wrong.
Rather than urging people to get vaccinated or force vaccines, a better approach is to force the unvaccinated to bear additional costs.
As companies take the lead in implementing immunization policies, their leaders can turn to an effective model to get people to get immunized. This is how businesses deal with smoking.
Like smoking in public, COVID-19 concerns public health. Getting vaccinated and adopting protective behaviors, such as wearing face masks or standing six feet apart, is part of the social contribution to public health. A functioning society must be willing to take the necessary steps to protect others.
Businesses have taken on the leadership role in the United States on public health and COVID-19. Requiring people to wear face masks in stores and banks, and seeking adherence to vaccinations for employees are examples of this leadership.
Now, companies have started to tackle the vaccination rate just as they have responded to the need for protective behaviors at the start of the pandemic. Premiums for vaccination have had little effect on much of the workforce. Some companies, like the healthcare industry, must mandate vaccinations to protect society. But people often rebel against warrants because they don’t like being told what to do.
A more effective strategy for increasing the vaccination rate among staff is to pass the costs on to the workers.
Don’t want to get vaccinated? OK, now you are going to pay more for your health care. You will also need to take tests and adhere to social distancing rules that do not apply to vaccinees.
It’s a lot like how smokers pay more for their insurance, and back in the days when smoking in public places was common, they could only smoke in special areas. Many people have quit smoking because of the costs (financial and social), and many people have been vaccinated for the same reasons.
The principle behind this is that people hate loss more than they love gains. For example, studies show that people value a loss of $ 20 much more negatively than a gain of $ 20 positively.
Business leaders must continue to benefit public health by implementing more policies that orient their employees towards immunization. The choice to vaccinate or not has personal and social consequences.
And while society should limit the negative social consequences for those who do not vaccinate, business leaders have found constructive ways to make people feel some of the negative social consequences of their actions.
Unvaccinated people should pay more for their health insurance because they are more likely to contribute to the drain on the health care system. People will have more restrictions on their public actions at work because they choose to endanger others. Again, consider smoking in public.
Historically, the United States has done wrong in voluntary efforts to improve public health. It seems we need an incentive to change our problematic public health behaviors.
Businesses must continue to lead the way in efforts to push people towards their civic duty to protect public health. This includes shopping, travel and entertainment companies that place restrictions on the unvaccinated, including customers. Again, we have seen the same measures taken to restrict smoking in public. The more work and social activities become more expensive not to be vaccinated, the more likely people are to be vaccinated.
We make concessions to be part of a functioning society. We have speed limits, requirements for wearing clothes in public, and smoking bans in public. We even had vaccination requirements in the past to go to school.
If too many people do not want to voluntarily commit to improving public health, we can hope that companies will push anyone who wants to be part of our economy to also be part of society and contribute to public health. As President Joe Biden recently said, “Business has more power than ever to change the arc of this pandemic and save lives.”
Timothy Coombs is a Crisis Communication Researcher and Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.
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