A vaccine is prepared at the Sharp Grossmont Center Covid-19 supersite. Photo by Chris Stone

As the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel shines a little brighter, we can all agree that it feels like the tide is turning. Over the last year, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on our lives through uncertainty, loss, isolation, and general helplessness.

At the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce we heard the refrain daily from our members. They simply weren’t sure what the future held for their business and their teams. As we know well, uncertainty can be one of businesses’ worst enemies.

However, the arrival of vaccines and the improved distribution processes represent an important moment — one of real hope for our economic recovery.

That hope, and that sense of possibility, is why we are proud to be launching Time To Vaccinate, a campaign that empowers employers to be partners in the vaccination effort by granting time and flexibility to employees to get vaccinated as soon as it is their turn.

Time To Vaccinate was created because we know there is an important role for businesses to increase vaccination rates, and there is nothing more important than vaccinations to claw ourselves out of economic uncertainty. While the pandemic has forced many of our member businesses to be reactive, vaccines now present a chance for proactive planning, strategy, and engagement by businesses.

By taking the Time To Vaccinate pledge, businesses are committing to keep their workforce educated, healthy, and thriving — and that’s not just good for business, it’s good for our future.

Some businesses are ahead of the curve: offering designated time off for vaccine appointments, or cash rewards for those who get the vaccine when they become eligible. For businesses that may not have resources to allow for monetary incentive, additional time off, scheduling flexibility, or robust education programming for the workforce is immensely valuable and sends a powerful and important message of support.

For many, whether to get the vaccine or not is a choice. By showing your business supports employees in the vaccination process, you can help make that an easier choice.

At the start of the pandemic our business community rallyed in big ways to help each other, to help neighbors, and communities in need. San Diego’s business community has a generous spirit and a lot of heart. For many outside the healthcare industry there have been few tangible ways they can help in the efforts against the pandemic.

Time To Vaccinate represents a tangible way all businesses, regardless of size, location, or industry can make a real, positive difference in the fight against COVID and our path to better days ahead. And it’s a simple way to ease the burden on our health care system and front-line workers who have been absolutely unwavering in their courage and commitment to our community.

We are proud to bring together our business community partners in this effort and to have early support on this initiative from a variety of businesses and partner organizations including the San Diego Padres, Starbucks, San Diego Tourism Authority, NAIOP, Asian Business Association of San Diego, and San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Together we can reach far and wide to engage all parts of our county, including those areas hardest hit by the pandemic, to do what it takes to get San Diego back up and running. 

What’s also clear is that managers and employers can lead by example. Participating in the Time To Vaccinate campaign can lessen vaccine hesitancy amongst those who remain undecided. The reality is that for San Diego to really get ahead of this pandemic, and to lessen the severity of mutations and other strains, we must get everyone vaccinated as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

San Diego’s comeback truly depends on all of us stepping up to do our part to put an end to the spread of this virus. By making Time To Vaccinate, we’re making San Diego’s recovery a priority.

Jerry Sanders is president and CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. He is a former police chief and mayor of San Diego.

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