DHS Secretary Implores Employers to Help Vaccine Rollout Effort

As eligibility for the COVID-19 widens to more groups in the coming weeks, the state’s top health official said employers will play an important role in helping their employees access the vaccine when the time comes.

Interim Wisconsin Department of Health Services secretary Karen Timberlake said the role of employers varies, but could include allowing employees to take off work to get vaccinated, hosting on-site vaccine clinics or simply sharing information about vaccine safety with employees.

“We think you have a role to play,” Timberlake told GMC members. “And we do think that the most important thing you can be doing is helping your employees with access to good, fact-based, science-based information about vaccine efficacy and safety, vaccine availability, what the plan is for your workplace when your employees become eligible.”

“We know that employers are a very trusted messenger for their employees around these kinds of matters, so our job as a health department is to equip you with the facts you need,” she added.

Employers should consider how transportation challenges could prevent employees from accessing the vaccine and potentially partner with a local health department or health systems to ease those issues. With vaccine appointments generally being held during traditional work hours, Timberlake said employers should also consider allowing employees to get their shot on paid time.