The Bay Area Council announced it is formally recommending all private sector employers, businesses and other organizations require COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees going to an office or other in-person workplace and customers.
The move, approved by the Council’s Executive Committee on the endorsement of the Council’s Healthcare Committee, marks the first time in the Bay Area Council’s 76-year history that it has made such a sweeping recommendation to its member companies and the region’s thousands of other private sector businesses.
The unprecedented action comes as the highly transmissible COVID delta variant drives a new surge in infections and deaths, threatens to overwhelm hospitals and poses a serious setback for fully reopening the economy.
“Vaccines are the only way to put the COVID pandemic behind us,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Vaccines are safe, effective and plentiful. The medical science is indisputable that getting everyone vaccinated is our best defense against this deadly virus. Vaccination rates are increasing but there are still too many people that haven’t been inoculated.”
Many employers, including Council members Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Google, United Airlines, Salesforce and Facebook, among others, already have begun to put in place vaccine requirements for their workforces and businesses.
“Our rationale for requiring the vaccine is simple. Our greatest responsibility to our employees is to ensure their safety when they’re at work at our airports and on our aircraft. And the facts say that we’re all safer when we’re all vaccinated,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines. “We look forward to our United Airlines employees being fully vaccinated by this fall.”
Under the leadership of Gov. Newsom, the state has also invoked vaccine requirements for many key frontline government workers. Many local leaders, including Mayors London Breed in San Francisco, Sam Liccardo in San Jose and Libby Schaaf in Oakland, have also taken concrete steps to require vaccinations and masking for certain employees and public events. But it’s critical that all employers adopt similar vaccine requirements, particularly as the delta variant now sweeping through the ranks of the more than 11 million unvaccinated residents statewide threatens to derail plans for returning to offices and other workplaces, getting back on transit and engaging in the many other public and social activities that have been put on hold.
“As our offices reopen, we will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our US campuses to be vaccinated,” said Lori Goler, Vice President of People for Facebook.
The Council’s recommendation excludes those with valid religious or medical exceptions, and it emphasizes the importance of continuing to adhere to masking, testing, social distancing and other approved protocols.
“With public and private leadership working together to require vaccination and implement safety practices, we can help end the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Council Executive Committee member Janet Liang, Executive Vice President, Group President and Chief Operating Officer for Kaiser Permanente. “Business leaders across the country must join the fight against COVID-19 to keep our people safe and to restore economic health in our communities.”
Kaiser Permanente made a similar appeal on Friday, Aug. 27 to businesses and other organizations across the country.
“Vaccination prevents our lives from being shut down, hinders another surge, and prohibits stronger and more deadly strains of the virus,” Kaiser Permanente CEO and Chair Greg Adams said. “No matter what lies ahead with COVID-19, the more vaccinated we are as a community, a nation, and a globe, the safer we will be from this dangerous virus.”