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Proof-of-vaccination requirement offers critical public health, economic benefits

This comic encouraging vaccination is one of many free public health messaging artworks commissioned by MAPC and free to use. Learn more: www.mapc.org/covid19-art.

This comic by Lillian Lee encouraging vaccination is one of many free public health messaging artworks commissioned by MAPC and free to use. Learn more: www.mapc.org/covid19-art.

Proof-of-vaccination requirement offers critical public health, economic benefits

Last month, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced that patrons and employees of restaurants, gyms, and other indoor entertainment venues in Boston must begin showing proof of vaccination on January 15. With this order, Boston joins New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and several other U.S. cities adopting similar health and safety measures.

We applaud Mayor Wu for taking this important step to protect public health and support local businesses, and we stand ready to partner with other cities and towns in the region looking to adopt similar requirements.

A number of communities in our region are considering taking similar steps, and we are glad to be working directly with our cities and towns to coordinate COVID policies so that the benefits of these public health measures can extend across the region. Since the beginning of the pandemic, MAPC has acted as a valuable resource to cities and towns, and we urge communities to come to us if they are looking to implement vaccine or mask mandates within their jurisdictions.

Studies Show Requirements are Effective

Early data from other countries that have implemented similar proof-of-vaccination requirements for certain indoor settings demonstrate the policy’s efficacy in encouraging vaccination.

Results from one study published in the Lancet on December 13 investigated the effects of requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test results on vaccine uptake. It found that these certification requirements in Denmark, Israel, Italy, France, Germany, and Switzerland did, in fact, increase vaccination rates in comparison to countries without similar requirements. Vaccination rates increased 20 days before the anticipated certification requirement went into effect and the increase lasted up to 40 days after, with the most pronounced effect in individuals under 30.

A similar working paper yielding similar results explored proof-of-vaccination requirements to enter public venues and non-essential businesses in several Canadian provinces. Researchers found that, “the announcement of a mandate is associated with a rapid and significant surge in new vaccinations (more than 60% increase in weekly first doses), and these results were similar to other countries with similar mandates.”

Small Business Owners Support Vaccine Requirements

As more people are vaccinated, fewer people will be at risk for serious illness and the transmissibility of the virus lessens. Proof-of-vaccination requirements for public indoor venues have a demonstrable public health benefit, and early data indicate the policy’s ability to promote vaccination. Additionally, small businesses owners have expressed relief that these requirements will keep their employees safe and allow their doors to remain open.

An October survey conducted by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 64%, or nearly two-thirds, of small business owners surveyed support vaccine requirements.

Community Investments to Encourage Vaccination

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color and households with lower incomes—populations that frequently make up significant portions of food industry jobs and other front line services. Those whose occupations put them in more frequent direct contact with the public experience more potential exposures to the virus unless protections are put in place to reduce this risk. Requiring proof of vaccination for certain indoor establishments protects these employees and their families, as well as patrons, from disease. These public health measures aim to mitigate further harm.

These measures do need to be complemented with other community investment. We must continue to pair new requirements with public actions that make vaccines and testing accessible for everyone. We need clinics that are open outside of normal working hours and that can accommodate walk-in appointments. Communities most impacted by and most at risk from COVID-19 should receive linguistically and culturally appropriate information, and we should work with trusted community leaders to ensure our public health communications meet those standards.

Local masking policies in the MAPC region. Click to view interactive map

Local Policies Should Protect Residents

As the Omicron variant continues to take hold across our communities, more municipalities are taking this important step to slow the spread of the virus and promote vaccination. More people will look to gather indoors during the winter months, and Massachusetts cannot afford to leave public health measures on the table. We are all looking for a pathway to a new normal, and we know what measures can help us get there safely. If you are interested in establishing an indoor proof-of-vaccination requirement and would like assistance, please contact Public Health Director Barry Keppard at bkeppard@mapc.org.

Our full statement on Mayor Wu’s proof of vaccination requirement can be found here.

MAPC has also been collecting information from local officials regarding indoor mask mandates. You can view a map of each municipality’s local masking policies here.