The FDA and the CDC have recently approved all adults to receive a booster shot six months after their second initial vaccination round. One question that has raised is whether employers now need to take action to encourage and/or require a booster shot on top of the original vaccination. At this time, the CDC’s definition of fully vaccinated has not changed and does not include the booster. In fact, the CDC seems to be tempering its emphasis on booster shots, focusing instead on ensuring that unvaccinated people get the initial vaccine(s). Therefore, it does not appear as though employers need to take any further steps at this time to require boosters of current or new hires.
However, as always, we have to pay close attention to further guidance from the CDC, CMS, OSHA, state mandates, and other sources in case their policies regarding boosters should change, particularly for those in jobs that have a high risk of exposure or transmission. Employers should be thinking now about what their policies surrounding boosters will be, i.e. whether they will offer incentives to get the booster, whether they will pay for the costs associated with getting a booster, and how their policies will be affected if boosters become mandated. Of course, this also raises all the same concerns about workers’ compensation exposure, so caution has to be exercised in how to communicate policies regarding booster requirements.
We will continue to update our recommendations and assessment as more information is known.