To date, healthcare workers have administered nearly 11 billion COVID-10 vaccinations around the world. Of those, 557 million occurred in the United States.
Now more than ever, employers need the ability to understand and track their employees’ vaccinations status.
Interested in learning more about what these services include and how they work? Today, we’re sharing a few of the top benefits that they provide.
A Look at the Current Vaccination Status
In an attempt to curtail the devastating effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. White House established a cohesive plan known as the National Strategy For the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.
As part of this plan, the U.S. government committed to reaching all people, in all communities around the country. This includes looking for ways to vaccinate and test people who live in high-risk areas and locations that are hard to reach.
By traveling directly to those populations, they help address most of the obstacles that previously prevented people from getting vaccinated. These issues include:
- Too far to travel
- Lack of public transportation
- General mobility issues
- Limited access to healthcare providers
- Limited access to vaccine clinics and testing centers
- Inability to secure family care
- Work schedule conflicts
Thankfully, there are various initiatives designed to bring vaccination services directly to communities in need. They require coordination among multiple different groups, including:
- Public health departments
- Local public health clinics
- Health care providers
- Community non-profit organizations
- Faith-based organizations
- Colleges and universities
How Do Mobile Vaccine and Testing Trackers Work?
As vaccines become available for more people around the world, employers need a system that enables them to track and manage the vaccination records at their workplaces.
This is imperative, as many organizations must comply with the federal requirements that mandate weekly COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly tests. Many of these requirements were put in place under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).
This year, OSHA repealed the standard. Those changes became effective on January 22, 2022. However, there are important caveats to note.
Though the ETS rules aren’t officially mandated anymore, OSHA still kept it in place as a proposed rule. As such, many employers across the U.S. are still following the prescribed guidelines to maintain visibility into their workers’ health statuses.
A Note on Legality
With so much recent emphasis on worker rights and authorizations, you may wonder if COVID vaccine tracking tools are legal. The short answer is yes.
These solutions are allowed under federal law, regardless of whether an employer has a mandatory or voluntary vaccine program in place. The only caveat is that this information must be treated as any other type of medical file.
This means it should be stored securely and discretely, and only authorized users should have access to it.
Also, read about 4 Tech Advancements Reshaping Healthcare
Basic Overview of Operation
Mobile vaccine and testing trackers are digital resources that allow them to manage these records from afar. This helps offset the burden on HR managers and administrators, allowing them to easily keep track of who’s been vaccinated or tested, and who still needs to take action.
This software includes a variety of different features, including:
- Surveying solutions
- Tracking mechanisms
- User-friendly dashboards
They can be small-scale or enterprise-wide, depending on the organization’s needs. Despite the size, it’s important to note that most of them operate on the honor system, where workers are responsible for uploading and sharing their own medical records.
While each software vendor will have its own set of features and tools, most tracking apps work in much the same way. First, an employee will receive a notification on their smartphone.
From there, they’ll be prompted to log into their tracking app. The app should already be installed on their device. Once they’re in, the app will prompt them with a series of questions, including:
- Are you vaccinated against COVID-19?
- When were you vaccinated against COVID-19?
- Have you tested positive for COVID-19?
If they answer yes to the first question, the platform will then ask them to upload an image of their official, signed CDC vaccination card. If they answer no, then they’ll need to reveal the date that they were last tested, and what that result was. They’ll also need to upload an image of their most current testing results.
While the process is relatively straightforward, there are variations between large-scale, enterprise-wide vaccine tracking systems and smaller, startup ones.
Enterprise-Scale Covid Tracking Solutions
In most large organizations, HR solution providers like WorkBright.com have already implemented systems to automate and simplify the document management process. Employees are used to uploading records and storing their personal information right from their smartphones. As such, it’s relatively simple to add proof of vaccination or testing onto these existing platforms.
Most of these programs have their roots in survey systems, which major software providers have included in their solutions for years. However, while they’re advanced, these programs still use the honor system detailed above. A majority don’t make use of any type of cross-checking technology to audit vaccine documents for authenticity and accuracy.
Rather, they simply add other questions to the employee polls already in existence: Have you received your COVID-19 vaccination? Have you recently been tested for the COVID-19 virus?
As this software continues to develop, enterprise vendors are also upping the features offered in their solutions. Now, employers can make use of document verification tools that allow employees to upload digital proof of their answers. This means providing a copy of their vaccination card or their COVID-19 testing results (if they’re unvaccinated).
Other Benefits of Enterprise Tracking Apps
In addition to COVID vaccine tracking, these apps also help employers gauge how their workforce feels about the pandemic and the restrictions it’s imposed. On many of these apps, you’ll find sentiment surveys that allow employees to share their opinions on a variety of topics, such as:
- How they feel about the vaccine
- How do they feel about sharing their vaccination status with their employer
- How do they feel about contract tracing programs
- How they feel about returning to work amid the pandemic
This input can help employers shape more responsive programs that better serve their workers and meet their needs. For instance, if there appears to be a significant amount of anxiety and fear in the workplace, they can develop a communication or change management plan to help workers transition into the new workflows. They can also make better-informed hiring decisions to keep their staffing levels adequate.
In addition, most apps also include reporting dashboards that allow users to group or filter employees for data analytics and reporting purposes. While the apps appear to be mostly mobile for now, they may shift into desktop models as time goes on.
Another benefit to note is that many of these platforms also integrate with a company’s existing building management system. This way, only authorized employees who test negative for COVID-19 (or share vaccination status) may be permitted to enter the commercial property. Most access control systems are equipped to add this capability, especially if workers are already required to use credentials to enter the building.
Smaller, Startup Covid Tracking Solutions
While large organizations can make use of enterprise-sized software to track vaccine compliance, the cost to implement such solutions might be prohibitive for some small businesses.
To provide these services but keep costs low, startup companies have now entered the race. These tracking solutions aren’t quite as robust as their bigger competitors, but they can provide many valuable services, including:
- Vaccine status tracking
- COVID-19 testing results
- Case management for positive employees
- Contract tracing to inform colleagues of possible exposures
Though these systems might not be equipped with some of the survey features and large-scale tracking capabilities as their counterparts, they can be efficient for companies who just need the basic mechanisms in place.
If smaller companies choose to forego automated vaccine tracking solutions, they can also get by with more basic, rudimentary procedures for monitoring employee statuses. These include:
- Excel spreadsheets
- Manual office systems
- Intranet file networks
Should Your Organization Implement a Mobile Vaccine and Testing Tracker?
Despite the ebbs and flows of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers need to exercise their rights to maintain visibility throughout their workplace.
Mobile vaccine and testing tracker solutions offer some degree of support. These programs allow employees to easily update their health status and make it easier for HR departments to maintain those records. This keeps everyone safer and better informed.
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