Vaccines in the workplace – information for employers

Learn how the COVID-19 vaccine affects workplaces, including booking an appointment, COVID-19 Safety Plans, and vaccination policies. 

Photo of person getting a vaccination in a medical setting

Photo credit: Creative House

Recently, like thousands of others in B.C., I stood in line for my first COVID-19 vaccination. I looked away when it was time for the actual jab in the arm — then felt happily surprised when it didn’t hurt at all.

Here in B.C., since the COVID-19 Immunization Plan started in December 2020, we have seen a number of front-line workers vaccinated to limit virus transmission at work. It started with staff in long-term care and assisted living facilities, and health care workers in hospital settings like Intensive Care Units.

Since then, the vaccine program has expanded to include more health care workers, along with teachers, daycare workers, first responders, workers in food processing plants, and many other front-line workers. Decisions about which front-line workers to prioritize are made by each of B.C.’s six health authorities based on outbreaks and clusters, the need for workers to live or work in congregate settings, and a number of other factors.

Booking vaccinations

If you’re an employer looking to book vaccinations for your staff, and your workplace or industry has been prioritized for vaccination, your local health authority will contact the workplace. Vaccine distribution for front-line priority workers is scheduled directly by health authorities on a case-by-case basis, based on the available supply of vaccines. (See Regional health authorities to search for your health authority by community name.)

If you’re a worker and your industry has been prioritized for vaccination in your area, your employer will give you information about how to register and book an appointment. Vaccine appointments for prioritized workers will be coordinated through employers and your local health authority. Staff must provide ID and proof of employment (like a pay stub or work ID) when they arrive for their appointments.

Find information about the age-based COVID-19 vaccination roll-out phases, and how to book an appointment, at B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan website. People 18 years and older are eligible, while youth aged 12 to 17 should check the website for updated information.

Vaccination and COVID-19 Safety Plans

Employers are not required to make vaccination part of their COVID-19 Safety Plan, but WorkSafeBC is encouraging employers to support and facilitate employee vaccination by providing education about its benefits.

If individual employers want to require employees to be vaccinated, they should seek legal advice. A mandatory vaccination policy would need to consider employees’ interests and labour and employment issues, as well as workplace health and safety.

Currently, even if staff are vaccinated, employers need to continue following their COVID-19 Safety Plan. Visit WorkSafeBC for more information about COVID-19 Safety Plans, and claims and vaccination.

Do you have any questions about vaccines and the workplace? Ask in the comments below and I will do my best to find you an answer.

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