2020 was a long year for all of us, and as we donned masks anytime we had to leave our homes we all wondered if this would be permanent, or if the world would ever go back to normal. With the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of three COVID-19 vaccines, it feels like we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
At the same time, the timeline for returning to less restrictive precautionary measures for daily life is murky at best. Vaccine rollouts are still ramping up, with 32% of the total US population vaccinated as of May 5th. The news that Pfizer will soon seek authorization to administer its vaccine to children under the age of 18 after promising clinical trials is certainly inspiring, but we still have a long way to go.
Common Questions About COVID-19 Vaccination Rollouts
For now, many banks and credit unions are asking themselves what they should do to adjust to vaccine rollouts.
- Are there restrictions that can be loosened?
- Should they require employees to get vaccinated? Is that even possible?
- What kind of timeline are we looking at in terms of when things will actually go back to normal?
Plan to Continue Social Distancing and Other Precautions
The most important thing to understand is that most of the practices we’ve adopted to limit the spread of the virus will remain in place. Dr. Anthony Facui, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a recent meeting that people will likely have to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines throughout 2021 and into 2022.
Vaccine distribution is still ramping up, and it may prove difficult to convince as much of the population to get the shot as would be ideal. At the same time, COVID-19 variants are turning up all over the world, and governments and health organizations are understandably worried that one will emerge that could put even vaccinated people at risk.
All of this is to say, it’s best to plan on continuing to follow social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures at your bank or credit union’s branches. That includes:
- Emphasis on drive-thru and online banking
- Social distancing indoors
- Face masks required indoors
- Hand sanitizer for customers and employees
- Plexiglass barriers where customers or employees could be close together
- Single-use pens and other measures to limit shared contact of surfaces
- Limit capacity according to your state’s guidelines
- Offer online reservations for in-person appointments to keep things organized
Can Banks and Credit Unions Require Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccination?
One challenge of the EUA is that while it allows us to get shots in arms, it means that we’re bypassing some of the steps we’d normally take to vet a vaccine under normal circumstances. While all the vaccines have been thoroughly studied, there could be unintended side effects that we don’t know about.
In other words, it’s tricky to mandate that your employees get the vaccine, let alone your customers. There are medical reasons someone might not be able to comply, and you’ll still need to plan around the possibility that someone lied or simply slipped through the cracks.
Positive Reinforcement Works Best
The best way to make sure that your employees get vaccinated is to provide positive reinforcement:
- Make COVID vaccines a part of your wellness program, like flu shots
- Look into establishing a vaccine site in your institution to make it easy
- Offer paid time off to get vaccinated and cover the cost of getting one
- Create incentives to get vaccinated, like a 401(k) contribution or bonus
- Communicate how important getting vaccinated is to protect your team
How to Reopen Your Bank Safely
Obviously, the most important component of reopening safely is making sure that as much of your team is vaccinated as possible. Financial services workers are part of the third phase of vaccinations because of how essential they are to our society. The more vaccinations that go out, the more your team can protect each other and your customers and create an environment where everyone feels safe.
At the same time, it’s important to realize that we’re not going back to normal overnight. It’s going to be a long process, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. COVID-19 variants are already emerging in some of the worst afflicted regions throughout the world, and there’s always a risk that someone carrying one will walk into your location.
Eradicating the virus will require continued vigilance and discipline on our part. We can get back to normal, but we need to continue looking out for each other and not let down our guards too soon.
Now, I think we all deserve a pat on the back for our perseverance through the last year. We have made this whole pandemic thing work by wearing masks, social distancing, working from home–we have had to basically change our whole way of life. As a way of saying kudos, we would like to offer you a little relief in the best way we know how–by simplifying the way you request maintenance on your equipment. Enjoy a free trial of Equips.com today. It is the least we can do to thank you for your perseverance.
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