Refuse vaccine
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  • More than half of executives say they will require employees to receive the vaccine before returning to work, according to a West Monroe poll.
  • Companies located on the West and East Coasts are more likely to require a COVID-19 immunization record.
  • Most companies do not expect to return to a stable financial position until the vaccine is widely available.
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More than half of executives, or 51%, say they will require employees to receive the vaccine before returning to work, according to a poll of 150 C-Suite executives released Tuesday.

A COVID-19 immunization record could become a business essential. Employers can legally require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine and even ban them from the office if they don’t, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In West Monroe’s Quarterly Executive Poll, a company’s desire for employees to get the vaccine directly correlates to their location. 

Read more: What’s coming next for COVID-19 vaccines? Here’s the latest on 11 leading programs.

East and West Coast companies, 59% and 55% respectively, said they would require workers to receive vaccine doses. While in the Midwest and south, CEOs are more likely to not require a vaccine, with 53% and 57% respectively saying they would not force employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

The majority of the executives do not expect their companies to stabilize or return to pre-pandemic revenue levels until near the end of 2021, the poll found. That's the same timeframe that the vaccine is expected to be widely distributed.

While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says the vaccine could be available to the general public as soon as the spring of 2021, the vaccine roll-out has failed to hit several key targets set by the Trump Administration. Recent vaccine timelines do not anticipate the US will achieve herd immunity until the end of the year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, says he expects the COVID-19 vaccine will become mandatory in many institutions.

"I would not be surprised, as we get into the full scope of [COVID-19] vaccination, that some companies, some hospitals, some organizations might require [COVID-19] vaccination," he said in an interview with Newsweek the first week of January.

See also: Silicon Valley billionaire investor Vinod Khosla said involving industry insiders in Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine early in development 'would have slowed down' progress

In a December poll of 150 current and recent CEOs of major companies, 72% of respondents,  - including Walmart, Goldman Sachs, and UPS -  said they were open to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Despite the potential mandates, corporate workers are a low priority in vaccine distribution plans.  Healthcare workers and frontline workers, as well as at risk members of the community take precedence over employees that can more easily work from home. The vaccine will likely not be available for non-essential workers for many months to come.

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