Vaccine Education is the Key to Saving Our Communities
COMMENTARY

February 13, 2021by Dr. Claudia Coplein, Chief Medical Officer, Tyson Foods
Dr. Coplein has held leadership and executive positions at MassMutual, ConnectiCare, MetLife, United Technologies Corporation and General Electric Company, and served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force.

All eyes are on the vaccine rollout. We’ve all observed the challenges our government has faced supplying and distributing vaccines, as well as some of the early learnings.

It would be easy to point fingers or poke holes in the perceived lack of progress. We could focus on the rollout’s imperfections, but if we truly want to have a shot at restoring the health and wellbeing of our communities, we all need to step up and do our part. This tremendous undertaking cannot be done without corporate America, policymakers, community leaders and everyone in between joining together.

We are all learning as we go, and it starts with education. Americans need to understand the importance of the vaccine and how and when to get it. Business leaders have a major role to play in this. As the next wave of the vaccine rollout begins, and essential workers come to the front of the line, we must make sure we’re providing accurate information in a way that is accessible and easy to understand. We can do this by communicating regularly with employees and reaching out to local organizations in the communities in which we operate to spread the word and share helpful resources.

Many state and local governments have begun to widen the pool of vaccine recipients and we must ensure we’re getting information to this next group of people quickly and effectively.

When COVID-19 first hit the United States, grocery store aisles were nearly empty and some people were racing to find food to feed their families. This underscores the important role that food suppliers, farmers, producers and retailers play in supporting our nation’s infrastructure. We need to ensure they have access to the vaccine as soon as possible.

As Chief Medical Officer at Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest food company, it is my No. 1 priority to make sure our team members and their families stay safe, healthy and informed. Their wellbeing is paramount.

Since the pandemic began, we’ve implemented a series of protective measures across our U.S. facilities to keep our team members safe. We introduced walk-through temperature scanners and social distance monitors, implemented a new testing protocol that helps us test thousands of employees a week, and partnered with Marathon Health to pilot seven health clinics that will give Tyson team members and their families easier access to high-quality health care.

Educating employees about the vaccine is another important responsibility we do not take lightly. We are making sure our team members have extensive information, in multiple languages, about the vaccine’s accessibility and how it works to help them make informed decisions. We also have a health services team with 600 medical staff members who are available to answer questions throughout the vaccination process in the months ahead.

We don’t have all the answers. No one does. But, in a time of crisis, we need to work together, share what has been successful, and help our country stop the spread of the virus.

I urge other business leaders to ramp up communication with employees about the vaccine, especially those that have essential workers in the 1b category. I also encourage policymakers to raise the volume on vaccine education and awareness. I applaud President Biden and Vice

President Harris for prioritizing the COVID-19 response in their first 100 days. It’s a sign of hope, but we know they cannot do it alone.

It is our responsibility as good corporate citizens – in partnership with government and community organizations – to make sure people understand the importance of getting vaccinated and how it will combat this pandemic. We are far from ending this crisis, and we cannot afford to go backward. Our communities are depending on us.


Dr. Claudia Coplein is the Chief Medical Officer at Tyson Foods, IncDr. Coplein has held leadership and executive positions at MassMutual, ConnectiCare, MetLife, United Technologies Corporation and General Electric Company, and served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force. She earned her medical degree from New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine and her law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law, as well as Master’s degrees in Public Health from Loma Linda University, Business Administration from Colorado State University and Environmental Management from Yale University.  She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Baystate Health.

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