February 23, 2024

Five Ways Employers Can Help Working Parents Vaccinate Children Ages 5 and Up

Stephen Massey
Managing Director, Health Action Alliance

Widespread vaccination will protect children’s health, keep schools safely open and help employees get back to work.

As of late November 2nd, 28 million children are newly eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommend that all children ages 5 and up get vaccinated as soon as possible. Providers could begin offering shots as early as today.

Immunizing these children can help prevent a winter surge and ease the concerns of anxious parents who are struggling to keep kids healthy and in school. Virus outbreaks forced about 2,300 schools to close between early August and October, affecting more than 1.2 million students. The CDC estimates that widespread vaccination of younger children could prevent about 600,000 new cases between now and March 2022. 

Businesses should know that encouraging working parents to get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible helps protect children’s health and keep kids in school, which reduces workforce absenteeism and turnover. This will especially benefit women in the workforce, particularly those from lower-income families and communities of color. Here are five actions employers can take to support working parents:

  1. Provide paid time off or flexible scheduling for employees to take their children to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and caught up on any routine immunizations they may have postponed during the pandemic. They may also need time to care for children recovering from any routine vaccine side effects.

    Paid time off is especially important for lower-income parents. According to an October 2021 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, half of all parents making $50,000 or less annually are concerned about being able to take time off to get their 5-to-11-year-olds vaccinated. That’s more than double the rate for parents with higher incomes. You can help make sure that parents don’t have to choose between a paycheck and their children’s health, and it will reduce your business expenditures over the long run.

  1. Remove barriers to vaccination. For example, families with more than one child may benefit from support with free or discounted child care while they attend vaccine appointments. Working parents who don’t live near vaccine sites or a pediatrician’s office may benefit from free transportation. Finally, employers can help schedule appointments for workers without reliable internet access or who may have language barriers.

  1. Educate your employees about COVID-19 vaccines—including that they are free. The COVID-19 vaccines are free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. To encourage child vaccination in your workforce, access our sample CEO email, get tips for sharing facts about the benefits of child vaccination, and answer your team’s frequently asked questions.

  1. Host an on-site COVID-19 vaccine clinic open to all employees and their families. Hosting on-site vaccine clinics for families improves access, boosts morale and helps protect your employees, their families, and the community from COVID-19. The CDC offers guidelines and best practices to determine if an onsite clinic is right for your business, and you can reach out to your local public health department to see if they would help organize a vaccine clinic at your workplace.

  2. Share what you're doing to inspire other companies. Major employers like Dell, Uber, and Land O' Lakes have taken action to support working parents who want to vaccinate eligible children. Tell us how your company will take action.