The American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia conducted a survey in October on the vaccination rates of its member companies and strategies employed to encourage employee vaccination.
The survey took place on the tail-end of a late summer surge of cases and on the back of decreasing public vaccination rates. In mid-August, the country was hitting a daily vaccination rate of more than 20,000 doses, but by the second week of October, doses being administered were consistently registering lower than 5,000 a day. More recently, vaccination levels have gone up again, thanks to government initiatives like financial inducements for pensioners as well as booster availability, but the survey still holds value in highlighting some of the structural characteristics of corporate vaccinations and attitudes towards them.
Of particular interest to AmCham, the survey showed that even when there is strong effort on the part of employers to help or encourage getting their employees vaccinated, there is still enormous variability in results.
As a result, AmCham members are generally very in-favor of any government programs that can induce people to get vaccinated. On the back of this information, we will be working hard to encourage strong efforts on vaccination in the near future. The survey showed that AmCham members have done fairly well. Even in October, almost 90% of companies had 75% or more of their management vaccinated, and around 60% of AmCham member companies had more than 75% of all their staff vaccinated. Smaller companies do a lot better than larger ones. Over 80% of companies with fewer than 10 members have more than 75% of their staff vaccinated compared to just 31% of companies with more than 500 employees. This might be because smaller AmCham member companies tend to have a higher level of concentration of professionals and because the scale of the problem is simply smaller.
Over 75% of companies have made some effort to get staff vaccinated. Strategies ranged from telling staff to get vaccinated (46%), giving employees time off to get vaccinated (34%), holding discussions with staff on the importance of vaccination (46%), bringing in experts to convince staff (24%), and offering bonuses to staff who vaccinate (10%). Other strategies included education campaigns, requiring mandatory PCR tests from unvaccinated staff, competitions and prizes, and bonuses or extra holidays.
Companies in Georgia are generally very much in favor of vaccine mandates, with over 70% saying that there should be vaccine mandates and only 7% saying that there should not. Though opinions differed regarding who should be vaccinated.
Teachers and medical workers were at the forefront of such expectations with nearly 10 times as many members supporting than opposing mandatory vaccination for these sectors. Almost 90% of those surveyed voiced the view that instructors should be vaccinated; support for healthcare workers being vaccinated followed close behind. Just over 25% of those surveyed indicated that all government employees should have the vaccine. There was also a strong sense amongst the membership that companies should be able to require their staff to be vaccinated, with 57% saying they are in favor of the idea and only 20% against it. This has been verified in follow up discussions, particularly with the tourism sector.
While a number of companies have met with indisputable success in obtaining high internal vaccination rates, others have been struggling to convince employees to get inoculated, despite efforts to the contrary.
The data suggests that larger companies with lower paid employees face bigger challenges. AmCham commends all of its members that are working hard to keep their employees safe and congratulates those that have already achieved high vaccination rates.
This article was prepared with the support of the USAID Economic Security Program.