Kansas City employers, doctors react to expected FDA approval of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine next month

Pfizer vaccine.JPG
Posted at 6:20 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 19:20:56-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration anticipates full approval of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine in September, employers in Kansas City are having discussions about what it could mean for workers.

Maggie Green, spokesperson for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, said the city has a lot to consider.

"What is the right call to make? Is it a vaccine mandate? We're trying to decide what the best balance is for our employees," Green said.

Green said Kansas City is considering the rise in delta variant cases, new vaccine guidance and religious and health concerns among employees.

The city's current policy requires employees either be vaccinated or be tested every 30 days.

Green said that policy has helped the city achieve a 66% employee vaccination rate, compared to the city's 40% as a whole.

"We're really proud that we have that vaccination rate, there's obviously a lot more work to do, we'd like to see that number increase," Green said.

At Truman Medical Centers/University Health, executive chief clinical officer Dr. Mark Steele said full FDA approval is a big deal.

"As we know, a lot of people are potentially on the fence waiting for that to happen," Steele said. "If that were to occur I think that would be hopefully a big boost to getting more people vaccinated."

Steele said the hospitals currently have 55 COVID-19 patients between both campuses. It's the highest number of patients since January.

"Even in our absolute peak in the winter months we had 62 total patients so this has really happened quite quickly," Steele said.

He said of the COVID-19 deaths the hospitals have seen, none were people who were fully vaccinated. The small percentage of people hospitalized who are fully vaccinated are typically older people with multiple medical problems.

KSHB 41 News reached out to several of Kansas City's largest employers to ask about possible vaccine mandates.

A spokesperson for Cerner sent the following statement:

"Even with FDA approval we will only require vaccines if the associates role requires it, such as those who work at or visit a client site that requires vaccines. Also, regarding masking, Cerner associates should follow masking guidelines at all times based on current viral rates and spread, whether they are vaccinated or not."

A spokesperson for Burns & McDonnell sent the following statement on behalf of Renita Mollman, chief administrative officer:

"We are not requiring or mandating the COVID-19 vaccination for our employees. However, we are committed to providing educational resources about the vaccine to our employees and have offered vaccination clinics at our Kansas City offices to help employees obtain vaccines.

The safety and health of our employees is of utmost importance to our company. We have rigorous safety measures and cleanliness measures in place and continue to follow CDC and OSHA guidelines and recommendations. Our COVID response team meets weekly and we continue to monitor what’s happening with cases, local and state orders and federal guidelines, should any changes need to be made or communicated to our employees in our offices and on our job sites."

A spokesperson for JE Dunn sent the following statement:

"As a company where ‘Families First’ is one of our guiding principles, keeping our employees and their families safe and healthy is our primary goal. We are encouraging employees to get educated about the benefits of the vaccine. However, we do not currently have plans to require the vaccine for our employees. The exception would be if our people are building and working on active jobsite for clients who do require vaccination. In that circumstance, we will defer to our clients’ vaccine guidelines and discuss this in detail with our employees."