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As the omicron variant begins to wane, public officials and employers continue to grapple with issues concerning COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Last month, a federal district court judge in Texas blocked President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal employees.  The judge emphasized that he believed President Biden had overstepped his authority and the ruling did not reflect the court’s opinion about vaccinations, adding the court believes people should be vaccinated. The Biden administration has appealed the ruling. The policy had been challenged by federal employees and contractors.

Earlier in January, the Supreme Court had temporarily blocked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) directive that private employers with at least 100 employees make sure employees are vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, but reinstated the federal government’s requirement that health care workers be vaccinated. OSHA has since withdrawn its emergency temporary standard (ETS) for private employers, but plans to issue a permanent standard.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate affects health care workers at organizations that receive federal funding through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Other employers in the medical field and academia are requiring the vaccinations for employees. Some states and cities are requiring employees to be vaccinated or tested. Boston has taken a hard stance on the vaccination issue by mandating city employees be vaccinated for COVID or lose their jobs. A Massachusetts Appeals Court judge has temporarily stopped implementation of that mandate.

Requirement for some jobs

Some employers are requiring vaccinations for certain positions, if not all positions. I had several candidates for receptionist’s positions recently. The employers wanted employees in those positions to be vaccinated because they were jobs that required a great deal of in-person contact with the public, and the employers wanted to protect their employees.

Employers should step back and assess whether employees in specific positions work directly with the public on an in-person basis. It would be prudent to require those employees to be vaccinated for their own benefit.

Some of those attending my 50+ Job Seekers Group workshops have asked whether they should put their vaccination status on their resumes. It wouldn’t hurt. A recruiter told me having the vaccination status on a resume makes it easier for recruiters because they don’t have to ask whether the potential applicant is vaccinated.

At-home test kits

Meanwhile, tests for the virus are becoming more widely available. At-home test kits can be purchased at pharmacies or obtained free of charge from the government. President Biden has ordered the federal government to purchase 500 million at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits to be sent to Americans who order them. In January, the government began accepting orders for the test kits at its website https://www.covidtests.gov/. The orders are limited to four test kits per household.

In January, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury issued guidance requiring group health plans and health insurance issuers to cover the cost of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. The tests must be covered without cost-sharing or prior authorization if they are being used for individualized diagnosis. Tests do not have to be covered if they’re being done for other purposes, such as employment.

Study on masks

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Feb. 4 that people who always wear a mask indoors are less likely to test positive for COVID-19, with N95 and KN95 masks offering the best protection. In indoor public settings, surgical masks lowered the risk of infection by 66 percent, according to the CDC study. N95 and KN95 masks reduced the odds by 83 percent. Wearing a cloth mask cut the chance of infection by 56 percent, but was not statistically significant.

The findings from real-world settings reinforce that in addition to being vaccinated, consistently wearing a mask or respirator in indoor public settings reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection, the CDC said. Though the N95 and KN95 masks offer the most protection, the CDC said, it is most important to wear a mask that is comfortable and will be worn consistently. The study was conducted by researchers at the California Department of Public Health from Feb. 18 to Dec. 1, 2021.

Watch your local pharmacies for the arrival of N95 masks, which will be available from the federal government at no charge.

Continue good hygiene

It’s still important to follow good hygiene to avoid contracting COVID-19. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, particularly after you have been in public, using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, covering coughs and sneezes, and cleaning and disinfecting your home.

At the end of the day, getting vaccinated is a personal choice, but it does get rid of the elephant in the room. If you would like some advice about mandating COVID-19 vaccinations at your company, I can help. Reach out to me at melody@melodybeachconsulting.com.

50+ Job Seekers schedule

The 50+ Job Seekers Networking Group’s workshops and bilingual workshops are free and virtual on Zoom.

The next workshops are:

  • Thursday, Feb. 10, 11 a.m. to noon: Savvy Seeker Series: Resilience through Difficult Times, featuring Karen Sowsy, project manager of the 50+ Job Seekers statewide Massachusetts networking groups. Register in advance at: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYrdOiuqzksEtIhZX0cTCnoBPV6ClwUXYiU
  • Thursday, Feb. 17, 2 to 4 p.m.: Informational Interviewing Roundtable. Learn the no. 1 rule for informational interviewing; the three things you want to take from every session; how to identify potential informational interviewers; how to turn conversations into opportunities; and what the interviewers want to hear from you. Register in advance at: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcocO2trT8iHtUDBnInX0A9f0TChTH6WAMg
  • Tuesday, Feb. 22, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Savvy Speaker Series: LinkedIn Part 2, Job Search Tool. The discussion will focus on how to effectively use LinkedIn to find and apply for jobs, including: how to learn who is hiring; how to find more companies to target; how to find connectors at your targets; and how to use LinkedIn filters.
  • Thursday, Feb. 24, 10:30 a.m. to noon: Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment Part II. This is a panel discussion with moderator David Guydan, director of ESC Discovery. Panelists are: Kara Cohen, manager of outreach and volunteer engagement with the AARP Massachusetts state office; Doug Dickson, chair & director of Encore Boston Network; and Chris Woods, program officer for Volunteer Initiatives for Massachusetts Service Alliance; along with Philistine Waters and Jon Reuman, who have transitioned from volunteering to employment.

This event is offered by 50+ Job Seekers in MA Statewide Networking Groups in collaboration with AARP, Discovery Centers for Civic Engagement, Encore Boston Network and Massachusetts Service Alliance.

Register in advance at: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUtf-6gpz8pEtFAw3u6ySQuJN5HZ_X2Pf7x

  • Tuesday, March 1, 10 a.m. to noon: G2G (give to get).
  • Thursday, March 3, 11 a.m. to noon: Savvy Speakers Series: Seniors Helping Seniors.
  • Tuesday, March 8, 10 a.m. to noon: Marketing Brief/Marketing Plan.

Use this link for programs that don’t list a registration link:

https://zoom.us/j/97530553439?pwd=cW1lamFwL3o4RmVORnhMcW9zQXljdz09

The interactive bilingual workshops meet from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays. The next few workshops are:

  • Feb. 23: STAR/PAR Stories.
  • March 16: LinkedIn Part 1: Your Profile.
  • March 30: LinkedIn Part 2: The Job Search.

Register here for the free workshops: https://50plusjobseekers.org/outreach/registration/.

The virtual doors open 15 minutes before each program starts. If you have questions, email us at 50plusjobseekersadmin@mcoaonline.com.

Contact me

You can reach me by downloading my digital business card by texting HRPRO to 21000 or emailing me at melody@melodybeachconsulting.com.

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Melody L. Beach Consulting Group
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AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
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Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
BNI Referral Champions Worcester Chapter
Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
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Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA)
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Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
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