Recently leaked internal documents from Pfizer reveal that the company has not insisted that its employees must have COVID-19 vaccines. The leak comes at a time when some businesses have fired employees for refusing vaccinations and the Biden administration is looking at options to empower companies to order vaccinations.
Images of a Pfizer booklet written by Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Payal Betcher are circulating online which shows that the company is only mandating coronavirus testing for its unvaccinated employees rather than demanding that they be given the jab.
In a message to U.S employees, the company claims that 80 percent of its American workforce has been vaccinated, which leaves 20 percent unvaccinated. “While this is great progress, more needs to be done,” the document states.
The company hopes that unvaccinated American employees get their COVID-19 shots “as soon as possible.” However, Pfizer does not insist on it nor mention any specific reprisal for refusing inoculation.
“Please note that if you have declared you are not vaccinated, decline to declare your status, or have a medical or a religious accommodation, Pfizer will require that you participate in a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing regimen. This will mean getting tested twice a week,” the document states.
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Pfizer’s decision to not mandate vaccination among employees comes in stark contrast to some establishments that have made inoculations a necessity. Big names like Microsoft, Tyson Foods, and United Airlines have mandated COVID-19 vaccinations.
In June, it was reported that Houston Methodist Hospital fired more than 150 healthcare workers for refusing COVID-19 vaccines. When employees sued the hospital, a federal judge in Texas dismissed the lawsuit. Similarly, the Supreme Court recently refused to block Indiana University’s mandate that students be vaccinated to attend the fall semester.
A July 19 survey conducted by Mercer found that 14 percent of businesses now require employees to be inoculated to work at a company site. The survey covered over 200 American employers. Since the beginning of the pandemic, roughly 2,950 COVID-19 related employment lawsuits have been filed in the country.
Washington is looking for ways to support American businesses that mandate COVID-19 vaccines. “We are looking at that just to see how far employers can go when it comes to vaccines and asking their employees to be vaccinated… It’s on the radar,” U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told Reuters.
Some companies are concerned that they might be exposed to discrimination lawsuits if they make vaccines mandatory for employees. However, President Joe Biden has stated that he will “have their backs and the backs of other private and public sector leaders” should such a situation emerge. Interestingly, the federal government, the biggest employer in America, has still not mandated COVID-19 vaccines.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki revealed that the Biden administration is exploring a “range of options” to continue mounting a “wartime response” against the coronavirus.
Some local governments have already begun requiring vaccinations. States like Denver and Massachusetts have announced mandatory vaccines. California, the most populated state in America, is requiring all state employees to prove that they have been vaccinated, failing which they have to wear a mask at the office and get tested once every week.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked private companies to require vaccines for their employees. The city’s 300,000 municipal workforce face dismissal without pay if they refuse to get vaccinated.
“Beginning September 13 every City government employee will need to be vaccinated for #COVID19 or undergo weekly testing. Those are the options. This is how we keep our city safe and fight back against the Delta variant,” said a tweet from the City of New York.
Booster shots, Billions in revenue
Meanwhile, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given the green signal to administer the third dose of COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised individuals, a decision that will inevitably benefit Pfizer that has been pushing to get booster shots approved.
“It will be a patient’s attestation, and there will be no requirement for proof or prescription or a recommendation from an individual’s healthcare provider,” CDC official Dr. Amanda Cohn said.
Pfizer and Moderna, manufacturers of the two most popular coronavirus vaccines in the United States, have made billions from the sale of COVID-19 vaccines, locking in more than $60 billion in sales for 2021 and 2022. Booster shots will add to their revenues.
“Going forward, analysts have forecast revenue of over $6.6 billion for the Pfizer/BioNTech shot and $7.6 billion for Moderna in 2023, mostly from booster sales. They eventually see the annual market settling at around $5 billion or higher, with additional drugmakers competing for those sales,” according to Reuters.
Israel was the first country to begin administering a third dose of Pfizer vaccine to its citizens. A survey of 4,500 people who received booster shots showed that most of the recipients experienced fewer or similar side effects as compared to the second dose. One percent of the survey participants sought medical treatment due to a side effect while 0.4 percent suffered from difficulty in breathing.