Employers urged to get vaccinated and encourage workers to do so too
Sats chief says companies should make it easy for employees to share concerns with medical professionals
Employers should get the Covid-19 vaccine when it is offered and strongly encourage their employees to do so as well, Singapore's chief health scientist Tan Chorh Chuan said yesterday.
He was delivering the keynote address at a webinar organised by the Singapore Business Federation.
The webinar, targeted at C-level executives, senior management and human resources directors, aimed to address questions on the implications of Covid-19 vaccination for businesses, as well as how companies can continue to manage and maintain their operations.
Prof Tan said the vaccines approved here, Pfizer and Moderna, "are highly effective and both have a very good safety profile".
He explained concepts such as herd immunity - how people who cannot get the vaccine are indirectly protected if a significant number of others do so.
"Vaccination is a game changer in that it allows us to progressively reach the goal that we want, which is a greater normalisation of the way we live and work," he said.
"But we should not expect it to be a smooth, straight line. Towards the end, there will be some twists and turns, and we have to be agile and adaptable in the process."
There was also a panel discussion involving business leaders such as Mr Alex Hungate, president and chief executive of ground-handler and in-flight caterer Sats, and Singapore Hotel Association president Kwee Wei-Lin.
The topics discussed included whether businesses should differentiate between employees based on vaccination status, and how employers could encourage their employees to get vaccinated.
Ms Kwee said there are incentives in the hospitality industry, such as a reduction in the number of routine tests required for individuals who are vaccinated.
Mr Hungate spoke about his experience getting Sats employees to volunteer to get vaccinated.
The volunteer rate was not sufficient at the beginning, he said. What helped was a process to roster people to go to a vaccination centre during working hours, to facilitate one-on-one discussions with a medical professional where they could raise their concerns.
"You have to make it easy for people to have that conversation with a healthcare professional... I think it is the company's obligation to make that time for them," he said.
About 90 per cent of Sats employees have been vaccinated.
"The key thing is that at no time did we force anybody to take the vaccine.
"We just made it very convenient and clear to them what the risks were, and that it was their individual choice," Mr Hungate said.