Companies with more than 100 employees have until Jan. 4 to get their employees vaccinated against COVID-19, or to begin conducting weekly testing, the Biden administration announced Nov. 4.
State labor officials estimate that nearly 1.4 million people that work in New Jersey could be affected by the new mandate, spanning 4,646 private worksites.
Those companies that do not comply with the new rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could be slapped with fines of at least $14,000 for each violation, the White House said.
Workers who do not get the vaccine will have to produce a negative COVID-19 test each week, the administration added. Employers will have to provide paid time off for those staff that do get the vaccine to recover from typically occurring side effects.
“[M]ore vaccinations are needed to save lives, protect the economy, and accelerate the path out of the pandemic,” reads a Thursday morning statement from the White House.
President Joe Biden’s announcement about the requirements came in early September, when the highly contagious delta variant surged across unvaccinated segments of the population.
“We must take action to implement this emergency temporary standard to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19,” reads a prepared Thursday morning statement from U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. “Many businesses understand the benefits of having their workers vaccinated against COVID-19.”
In New Jersey
New Jersey is still among the most vaccinated states in the country, and more than 75% of those eligible to get the vaccine have done so, according to Gov. Phil Murphy.
There are three inoculations available: the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. All three have been approved for booster shots—Moderna and Pfizer six months after the second dose, and J&J two months after the first dose.
Just over 6 million people have been vaccinated in New Jersey, and now the state is rolling out efforts to administer the booster shots, and to administer the Pfizer vaccine to upwards of 760,000 children ages six to 11.
Many of New Jersey’s largest employers are among those requiring the vaccine, including RWJBarnabas Health; CVS Pharmacy; United Airlines, which uses Newark Liberty International Airport as one of its national hubs; and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. Combined, they employ tens of thousands of New Jersey workers.
Last week, University Hospital in Newark said it was requiring anyone who got the J&J vaccine to get the booster.
“I really think it’s up to the individual companies to do what they think is right,” Tom Bracken, the head of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce – which mandated the vaccine in August for its staff, and for attendees at any in-person events – said last month.
Nevertheless, Bracken said Biden’s announcement could trigger a surge in vaccinations in New Jersey and across the country.
“Our pulse poll in late August basically showed a mixed bag in terms of employer and employee acceptance of mandated vaccines in the workplace,” said Bob Considine, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. “It should be up to the employer to determine, as every business has different levels of protection, different levels of interactions, employees with different points of views, and different situations relating to staffing needed to stay in business.”
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