While rules for each organization may differ based on location and state legal regulations, local government agencies across the nation are grappling with the challenge of how to collect and track employee vaccination information to ensure the safety of their workforce -- especially given the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on August 23, which may prompt more organizations to mandate employee vaccinations.
For instance, in Los Angeles, LA City Council approved a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all city workers. As a part of the new ordinance, only employees with a medical or religious exemption who are required to regularly report to a work location are eligible for weekly testing instead of receiving the vaccine. This is in tandem with a growing number of US cities including New York City, New Orleans, and San Francisco that are now requiring proof of vaccination for many city, hospital, and education workers.
As we head into this “new normal,” of the pandemic, honing in on your organization’s protocols for tracking employee vaccination will be crucial to abide by local regulations and keep workers safe. Below are the top questions HR teams should ask themselves before getting started, as well as step-by-step tips for simplifying the process.
- 1. What’s your organization's policy regarding vaccinations?
Before you can get into the details of what your organization’s strategy will look like, your HR team will need to ask the following questions:
- If you’re not already required by state or local regulations, where does your organization stand on the topic of vaccination proof?
- If you haven’t already, should you set up a system now in case it becomes a requirement later on?
- What will happen if an employee isn’t vaccinated? For example, will they need to provide exemption documentation, be required to wear a mask at work, or take other additional precautions, such as undergoing temperature checks, regular COVID testing, working from home, etc.?
Asking these questions can help your team set a baseline of where you need to be as you prepare to get started with implementing your new process.
- 2. What data will be requested of employees on vaccination forms?
Once you’ve confirmed what your policy will be, you can then decide which questions will be required on employee proof of vaccination forms.
Developing easy to use forms (download our free form here) has the added bonus of also enabling a smoother data tracking process for your HR team.
For example, depending on your organization and its local legal requirements, you will likely benefit from including the following employee and vaccination information on your forms:
Basic Employee Information
- Employee First and Last Name
- Employee ID #
- Job Title
- Employee Email
- Employee Signature
- Date of Signature
Basic Vaccination Information
- Vaccine Declined (Yes or No)
- Reason if declined: Religious or medical exemption
- Vaccine Type Received (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson)
- Date of First Vaccination Received
- Date of Second Vaccination Received
- Date of Booster Vaccination Received (if applicable)
- Proof of Vaccination (vaccination front and back card photo)
- Written statement by a medical professional (if medically exempt)
Note that including a section for “Date of Booster Vaccine Received” when applicable may be an important consideration as the policies continue to unfold. If you’re using digital forms, requiring a photo upload for COVID vaccination cards or written statements from medical professionals is another helpful option to collect information from one convenient location.
Making sure to update employee vaccination forms according to the latest relevant policy and pandemic changes will also be key to maintaining up to date information for your agency -- and this is when digital form management can be especially helpful for making important updates with the click of a button.
- 3. How will you gather vaccination proof and information?
After you’ve decided on the data you need to collect, you will then need to decide how employee information will be processed -- and government agencies across the board can benefit from streamlining their procedures.
The importance of technology and going paperless when possible has become evident for both safety and efficiency reasons throughout the pandemic. Consider an online form management system that enables you to document vaccinations, medical exemptions, religious exemptions, additional vaccine doses, compliance reporting, and more to meet ever-changing vaccination and safety needs.
Aside from tracking employee vaccinations, digital forms and form management systems can come in handy for a wide variety of your organization’s COVID-related and everyday HR needs.
- 4. Who will be in charge of reviewing and approving vaccination forms?
Setting up a process for what happens after information is collected is a crucial next step for teams to implement. Asking the following questions can help your organization get a better idea:
- Who will forms be approved by -- will it be HR, department heads, managers, stakeholders, etc.?
- Who needs to be notified and take further action upon form completion?
- How will forms be tracked, and how will vaccinated vs. unvaccinated employees be segmented in the system?
- How will information be safely and securely stored within the organization’s database?
While this may be a larger cross departmental discussion among teams at your organization, this is another instance when collecting information with the ease of convenient digital forms can minimize the hassle by helping your organization gather and store information while also meeting your compliance needs.
- 5. How will you get the word out to employees?
Once you’ve developed a plan for collecting employee proof of vaccination from beginning to end, alerting employees about your organization's process will set your plan into action.
While this process may differ from agency to agency, there are a variety of ways to get the word out to employees at your organization. From making it a required online task for all employees to complete, sending out mass email communication to your organization, or training managers on how to notify and collect information from employees, there are several options to choose from depending on what suits your organization best.
- 6. What systems are easy to use and meet the compliance security requirements of government agencies?
Fortunately, implementing an online form management system, which can be made possible thanks to systems like NEOGOV’s eForms software, can simplify the process for HR teams and employees alike. By allowing your team to easily create forms and automate workflows, you can receive notifications, reporting, and automated email reminders to help your organization stay on top of deadlines and ensure that employees can track their tasks to completion -- all while ensuring public sector compliance.
For example, in the case of proof of vaccination forms, your organization can assign a form submission task to an employee and automate reminders when an employee hasn’t submitted their form yet. This can help employees meet necessary deadlines and save you the time of manually checking on employees and their form submissions.
When all is said and done, tracking employee proof of vaccination and other COVID-related policies in the workplace may initially seem like a daunting task. Luckily, digital forms and form management systems can simplify the process to help you get the job done and keep your workplace safe.
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