Google has told its workforce that they will need to be vaccinated before they can return to the company’s various campuses. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the news. The company is also delaying its mandated return to offices until mid-October.
The new policy only applies to the United States right now, but CEO Sundar Pichai told employees that Google would expand the requirement to other countries in the coming months. He added that he hoped the vaccination requirement would give its 135,000 employees more peace of mind as they return to offices.
“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,” he said.
Yeah, it’s legal — Before conservatives, libertarians, or anti-vaxxers cry foul, know that Google’s mandate is perfectly legal. Employers can legally require a COVID-19 vaccination under recent guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They must, however, provide reasonable accommodations for employees who are exempt from mandatory vaccination for health reasons.
Pichai said employees opposing vaccination for political reasons will be asked to continue working from home and contact human resources to evaluate their options. It may turn out that corporations do something good for once, forcing people to get vaccinated where the U.S. thus far has not.
Growing mandate — The mandate by Google comes as both governments and private entities have begun requiring vaccination and the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads across the United States. Even those who are already vaccinated can be infected, but immunization protects individuals from the most severe effects of the coronavirus. And people who are immunized are less likely to spread it to the unvaccinated who aren’t protected from the worst harms.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced earlier on Wednesday that all state employees will be required to get vaccinated or otherwise take regular COVID tests. Hospital and other patient-facing workers will be required to get immunized, too.
Mutation risk — The United States did well early on getting citizens vaccinated, but there remains a stubborn holdout of skeptics who are resistant, largely for discredited reasons like claims the vaccines were developed too quickly, or are some plot by Bill Gates to reduce the population. But these same holdouts are making it more like the virus could mutate into a new form that existing vaccines do not protect against.
In the last month, the U.S. seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases has surged, from 11,887 on June 26 to 56,635 just this Monday. Fortunately, reports indicate that vaccination rates are starting to creep up in coronavirus hot spots.
The head of the Centers for Disease Control warned on Tuesday that we’re not far off from the coronavirus mutating in a way that evades existing vaccines. All viruses change over time as they replicate, and that means the Delta variant is already creating new, slightly different variants. The more people who get infected, the more chances the virus has to mutate.
Breakthrough cases affecting vaccinated individuals already show the real danger the United States (and the world) faces if the unvaccinated remain firm in their refusal to get jabs. Vaccines are already compulsory in childhood and for immigrants, so the U.S. has no problem forcing them on people. It’s time the country extended the same demands to COVID-19 shots... before it’s too late.