It’s a prickly topic for any workplace, but Facebook staff will not be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to their pampered workplace.
The coronavirus vaccine developments are happening in fast and furious fashion (though this still being the Trump era, there are ethics issues.) But an extremely horrible 2020 is ending on a hopeful note, as we appear poised to head into the new year with multiple highly effective vaccines in circulation. This will create “good problems to have” like who gets the vaccine first, and whether large employers will let their workers back to the workplace without a vaccination. The question came up at Facebook’s all-hands meeting Thursday, and of course an employee immediately leaked the answer to the press, as the Daily Beast reports Zuckerberg said that Facebook employees will not be required to get the vaccine before returning.
The man whose name adorns San Francisco’s public hospital, everyone. https://t.co/4dsVDvWQdU— Eve Batey (@eveb) December 11, 2020
People are piling on Facebook — which is always the right thing to do — because they are an industry leader, so many other firms are likely to follow their example on the vaccine front. While their global workforce is around 50,000, they are nowhere near being the largest employer in the Bay Area. But the Zuck seal of approval toward a ‘no vaccine’ policy will likely nudge the rest of the tech industry toward the same.
The Daily Beast pressed Facebook for comment. “At today’s company Q&A, Mark said that at this point, we don’t think it will be necessary to require a vaccine for employees to return to work,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “He also said he’s confident in the vaccine and looks forward to getting one himself. Once we return to the office, we will have a number of protocols in place that we expect to include testing, social distancing, wearing masks and other best practices. We continue to work with many experts to define a plan that prioritizes everyone’s health and safety.”
A lot of workplaces are going to have to wrestle with this, and Facebook is frankly in a far easier position than most. The company’s operations can easily be done remotely, as they have been for the better part of the year. Facebook has a highly pampered workforce (though not so much so for contractors), and they’re all allowed to work from home for at least the next eight months anyway.
New: Facebook says it will start removing false claims about Covid-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts on Facebook and Instagram. pic.twitter.com/IaCpCvEmBL— Brandy Zadrozny (@BrandyZadrozny) December 3, 2020
The more pressing vaccine issue for Facebook, whether they or realize it or even care, is the large volume of batshit vaccine misinformation that will be flying around on the platform. The Verge says Facebook will remove vaccine misinformation posts, but a simple search easily produces vaccine misformation groups. NBC News reports that anti-vaxx sentiment is furiously spreading on “groups for pet lovers, parent school groups, yoga fans and foodies.” So regardless of whether Facebook has a healthy and vaccinated workforce, the platform itself could be the single biggest risk vector in limiting vaccinations, as inaccurate viral posts facilitate more viral infections.
Image: Moth Innovate via Twitter