May 1 Vaccination Target Brings Relief to Manufacturers

In an address on prime-time television, President Joe Biden has announced a target date of May 1 for vaccination of the adult population in the United States. While great news, it does come with a caveat. In his message, the president said, “All adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1. Now let me be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning May 1.” Even still, this is exceptional news for manufacturers.

Right now, manufacturing workers are stuck in limbo. They’re characterized as essential workers and eligible for the vaccine; however, they still fall behind the elderly or infirmed in the orchestrated rollout. With vaccine deployment still taking off, many manufacturing employees simply haven’t heard their number called for inoculation yet. Biden’s decree could change that.

An aggressive but essential timeline

Although President Biden preached the importance of a very special Independence Day in which all Americans have potentially had their first dose of the vaccine, there’s far more at stake in a rapid rollout. Summer is on the way, and with it, another potential wave of coronavirus cases. This was the case in 2020, leading to the crescendo of cases that set records in the midpart of the year.

There’s also opportunity to get the economy back on track mid-year. Manufacturing has seen strong recovery over the past 12 months, but there’s still looming concern that a slowdown is right around the corner. A healthy, capable workforce could tamp down those fears.

Although earlier than originally anticipated, the May 1 target date is aggressive but not impossible. More important, it’s becoming essential to get more of the population vaccinated as new variants of the virus begin to crop up.

Manufacturing stands to benefit

Over the past year, manufacturing workers have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Across different industries, factories have become hotspots for the virus, leading to shutdowns, delays, and lack of supply.

Manufacturing employees are essential workers. Their status puts them high on the priority list for vaccination — provided there are doses available. As Biden ramps up the call to supply states with as much vaccine as they need, manufacturing workers are set to get their much-needed inoculations. By June, manufacturing could find itself as one of the most thoroughly vaccinated sectors of the economy, ready to thrive at a crucial time in the recovery of the broader economy.

As the U.S. ramps up to more than 2.3 vaccinations administered daily, the May 1 target date begins to look increasingly feasible.

Getting ready for a wave of vaccinations

Manufacturers need to do their part to ready their workforce for vaccination as soon as doses become available. This means registering with local healthcare organizations to get employees on the list — or, to set aside doses for mass vaccination, when available. There are other ways to promote readiness among employees, including encouraging vaccinations through family physicians or when other opportunities arise. Just make sure you’re treading the fine line of advising vs. incentivizing, which can create problems for organizations, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Awareness and readiness are keys to capitalizing on vaccine doses that will quickly become available to manufacturing employees. It’s up to manufacturers to remove the barriers standing between available vaccinations and employees. Thankfully, opportunity for vaccination grows by the day.

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