More mandates, more problems?
Pandemic. Virus. Antibodies. Vaccine. These words are now a part of our everyday vernacular. In today’s world where the COVID-19 virus is intertwined with our daily lives, personal and professional, they are used regularly.
The battle against the COVID-19 virus has turned into an enmeshment of science, technology, politics, and the human desire to evolve towards a “safer” world. As a result of this, the government, in conjunction with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a part of The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), have taken steps towards mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.
The ABCs of the vaccine mandate
The vaccine mandate for large employers with over 100 employees requires that employees be fully vaccinated or participate in weekly COVID-19 testing. In conjunction with this mandate, two Executive Orders were issued that require all federal employees and employees of federal contractors to be vaccinated.
With these mandates and orders come the requirement from large employers to ensure that their workforce is fully vaccinated or provide employees weekly COVID-19 testing. These businesses must also provide paid time off for employees to receive the vaccine and recover from any vaccine-related side effects. If they do not comply they could face fines of $14,000 per incident.
The impact of this mandate is estimated to affect around 80 million individuals in the private sector workforce. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued an equally similar mandate for employees of facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, impacting another 17 million healthcare workers.
How can technology help?
The tool that the CDC has provided as proof of vaccination is a paper card, a foreign concept to many in 2021 where everything from a grocery list to a driver’s license is stored on a mobile device. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test runs along the same lines, centered around emails from labs or clinics or the paper cards from at home tests. While the technology for the development of the live mRNA vaccines is from the 21st Century, the way that countries, including the U.S., have offered for a person to prove their vaccination status or test results seems archaic.
Technology is evolving to help lighten the load around easily and quickly allowing users to store and share their vaccine card with other parties. A number of mobile applications that enable users to store images of their vaccine card and log their vaccination status are entering the market. The number of these apps are increasing, with currently around 10 available on the Apple App Store to date, and more to follow in the future. These mobile applications allow for users to have a digital tool to demonstrate their vaccination status to another party whether it is their employers, a state or country they are visiting, or an entertainment event like a musical or concert. While these technical solutions still face varying security and authentication risks, new players are looking to mitigate as much of the risk as possible in order to allow for users to demonstrate their status.
Additionally, using a variety of integrations within these platforms can provide an additional security layer or verification. Mobile applications and other software platforms could use API calls to confirm the identity of a user by comparing it to a legitimate database and if a user is fully vaccinated or semi vaccinated. While these integrations are evolving and can be used in future technology, the vaccination mandates are driving new and innovative players to the market to provide an easy and seamless process for proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing.
Stay calm and carry on
With the passing of these new mandates, the burden on large employees and their ability to fund COVID-19 testing and hire and retain talent with these new guidelines will come at a price, especially if that employer has business in different states, with their own COVID-19 legislation. But, as it always seems to do, technology is not far behind with a solution. Ideally, the easier and more cost effective solutions are, the more likely they will be adopted and used by the public, allowing for our world to return to a favored and missed word: normal.