Within the pandemic, there has been a wave of hospitals mandating their employees receive vaccinations against the virus that causes COVID-19.
And on Wednesday, President Joe Biden's administration announced the federal government would require nursing facilities to vaccinate all staff members if they wish to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments.
However, industry and private businesses have remained reluctant to require employees to receive vaccinations.
About two weeks ago, nbcnews.com published a list of national companies that mandate vaccines for some or all employees.
Among them, Google, Microsoft, Amtrak, Tyson Foods and United Airlines are to require all employees to be vaccinated. Walmart is to require corporate staff to be, and Walgreens is requiring workers in U.S. support offices to receive vaccinations. Several companies, such as Delta Airlines, will require new hires to be vaccinated. Delta made it clear it's not requiring vaccinations for current employees.
In several cases, those who don't adhere to the mandate will undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Missouri has long held it's the employer's right to decide whether to impose a mandate on workers or not, said Karen Buschmann, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice president of communications.
"The Missouri Chamber strongly supports the right for businesses (whether) to require vaccination of their employees or not," Buschmann said. "The law and courts have all supported that businesses have the right to decide on what vaccination requirements they have for their employees."
Those are rights employers have had for decades, she continued.
Derek Burleson, a spokesman for Tyson Foods, said the company's decision was intended to benefit employees, but the benefits reach farther. It announced mandatory vaccinations Aug. 3.
"The decision comes from our priority of making the health and safety of our workforce our top priority," Burleson said. "In this case, (the mandatory vaccination decision) expands into our community."
He pointed out when employees receive vaccinations, it benefits their families, friends, neighbors and anyone they interact with outside the workplace.
Nationwide, the company employs about 120,000 people — 5,600 in Missouri. Less than half had been vaccinated before the announcement.
Vaccinations are required by Dec. 1.
Employees may have had questions, but have embraced the decision. The first week after the announcement, more than 5,400 Tyson employees received vaccinations.
"We're making progress and moving in the right direction," Burleson said.
Meanwhile, Tyson staff are considering exemption requests from team members on religious and health reasons.
The Missouri Chamber is helping employers' efforts to get team members vaccinated.
Earlier this year, the chamber announced the COVID Stops Here campaign. Within the program, workplaces that reach 70 percent vaccination rates may apply for COVID Stops Here designations. The designations are tiered, so workplaces may apply for Gold (90 percent vaccinated), Silver (80 percent) and Bronze (70 percent) designations.
Approved workplaces receive signage and a media kit to help promote their status within the community.
"The Missouri Chamber created a way to recognize employers who had workplaces with high percentages of vaccinated workers," Buschmann said. "We have more than 200 employers who have reached out to us to let us know they have reached those levels. These companies collectively employ thousands of employees. We believe it is helping increase vaccination rates among the business community."
The chamber provided on its website these tips to encourage employees to get vaccinated:
Lead by example. Have leaders in your organization show off their vaccine card or share why they're planning to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Experts have found when employees see their leaders get vaccinated at work, it is extremely effective in addressing vaccine hesitancy in the workplace.
Allow employees to take paid time off to get the vaccine, and offer paid sick leave to those who experience side effects to help them recover.
Share Missouri's vaccine website , which offers vaccine FAQs and vaccine appointment registration.
Host a vaccination event at your workplace to make getting vaccinated convenient. Express interest in having a free clinic come to your workplace using a simple one-page form found at stateofmissouri.wufoo.com/forms/m1l2ergb0572jxj/.
Use your organization's social media to share your messaging.
Bring up the subject in staff meetings.
Ask vaccinated employees to share their stories with co-workers — why they got it, how simple the process is and how they've experienced no side effects beyond the typical few days.
Offer inoculated employees "Vaccinated!" stickers for their ID badges, or buttons that could be pinned to a shirt.
Distribute informational handouts for employees to take home and share with family.
Multiple large U.S. and Missouri health care providers began in late June to mandate that all their employees receive vaccinations against the virus that causes COVID-19.
In Missouri, SSM Health (the St. Louis-based owner of St. Mary's Hospital), MU Health Care, BJC HealthCare (Barnes-Jewish Hospital and others) and Mercy (including Mercy Hospital in Springfield and others) represent a significant number of medical institutions in the state, said Dave Dillon, spokesman for the Missouri Hospital Association.
MHA isn't tracking how many hospitals have such mandates, Dillon said, but it's likely a majority of hospitals in the state have mandated employees receive vaccinations.
"Most of the mandates are similar to what you might expect for influenza or hepatitis requirements," Dillon said.
The hospitals in Jefferson City are divided on the issue.
Capital Region Medical Center, which has a longstanding relationship with MU Health Care, has not taken the step to require vaccinations among employees, said Lindsay Huhman, director of marketing and public relations. However, the hospital continues to consider the move.
"Healthcare leadership at Capital Region is involved in ongoing discussions regarding requiring the vaccine for CRMC employees," Huhman said. "Currently, we are strongly encouraging employees to get vaccinated, and we have physicians engaging with employees in small groups and individually to thoroughly address questions and concerns that may be causing hesitancy."
SSM Health announced the requirement for employees in late June. At the time, 62 percent of the health care provider's staff was fully vaccinated, said Jessica Royston, regional manager of marketing and communications. It has since improved to 83 percent.
Those staff members who fail to receive vaccinations or exemptions face termination.
At CRMC, 63 percent of staff are fully vaccinated.
SSM Health has received a number of requests for exemptions on religious and medical grounds, Royston said.
The health care provider evaluates the requests individually, she added.
"We have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of our teams, patients, their loved ones and the most vulnerable among us in the communities we serve," she said. "The COVID-19 vaccines are proven to be safe and effective at preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and serious illness."
Last week's federal announcement concerning nursing facilities added to previous requirements that all health workers in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs be vaccinated. The announcement would apply to hundreds of Missouri nursing facilities.
Some states, such as Maryland, already have mandates for nursing home staffers' vaccinations.
"The benefits are clear," Dillon said. "(A mandate) protects the worker and the members of the community they interact with."