Focus on prevention
In other words, an ounce of prevention saves a pound of pain down the road.
When it comes to vaccinations, study after study is showing those who are vaccinated against COVID have a much, much smaller chance of getting seriously ill with COVID. They miss less work. They infect fewer co-workers. They are a healthier and more stable workforce for companies.
Testing only adds to that safety net. Regular screening prevents unnecessary absences and other complications that could decimate a workforce and cripple a company.
Historically, we’ve frequently seen these cost-benefit analyses applied to influenza. One study from Italy found an “influenza vaccination strategy reduced absences from work by 23% and decreased the loss of working days by 30% and related cost.” Another found “vaccinated employees can serve as a barrier to limit the spread of influenza in the population, reducing the attack rate by 78% at an employee coverage of 90%.”
And that’s with the flu. Compare that omicron, which is spreading like no flu has ever spread – maybe like no virus has spread, ever.
That is why I never wanted a mandate. We should not need one.
Of course, this is not perfect. Vaccinations are not shields. They are seatbelts. They do not prevent accidents, but they protect you when you get in them. And tests are not 100%, and can only slow spread, not stop it, giving you a sense of where the virus is, and isn’t. Still, it is always better to vaccinate and test.
Another reason to vaccinate and test is continuity. Ask yourself: When it comes to the ability of your business to function at its best – or at all, in some cases – what is the cost of losing even one employee to illness?
Businesses model the cost of work stoppages all the time. I bet you know what a one-day power outage would cost your business right now, and you have a plan to address it. The same holds true for natural disasters, workplace violence, and other crises. But what is your plan to handle the loss of a significant part of your workforce for a week or two or worse, with an illness?
One of our customers, a medical products manufacturer on Milwaukee’s Northwest side, instituted an employee antibody testing program in the early days of COVID – before any vaccine and access to antigen rapid tests. Their first round of tests for about 130 employees showed 10 employees tested were positive for COVID-19 antibodies. Only four of those people were known to have had the illness previously. Another four positive cases showed evidence of “recent antibodies” and may be infectious; they were sent home immediately with recommendations to get a PCR test and monitor for symptoms.
A potential shutdown was averted.
Another one of Novir’s clients, a local food manufacturer, was faced with having to shut down production lines due to illness in the early days of COVID. Of course, they were concerned about the health of their employees and loss of production and revenue. But they were as concerned about their shelf space – losing their spot in grocery store freezers to a competitor because of out-of-stocks.
Working with local health officials and Novir, this manufacturer preemptively implemented a company-wide COVID-19 testing program, and it paid off, preventing any disruption to output. The shelves remained stocked, there were no shortages, and years of hard work to win that space were not lost.
And think of the insurance costs testing and vaccinations can save you.
What is the cost of just one of your employees ending up in the hospital with COVID and long-haul symptoms? $500,000? $1 million? What will that mean to your annual renewal? And what if you’re self-insured? The risk is even greater.
One recent study found there were 690,000 “vaccine-preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations from June through November 2021 in the United States,” with each of those preventable hospitalizations costing, on average $20,000 – some much, much more. That is billions of dollars in the aggregate – and money taken away from the bottom lines of you and your business.