Digiday+ Research: Vaccination requirements rare among publishers, agencies

Over the past two years, the media industry has played a crucial role in shaping the norms and expectations around mask-wearing, vaccinations and how employers should incorporate them into their businesses. 

It has also largely stopped short of requiring its employees to get the vaccine themselves, according to new Digiday+ research. 

In early November, Digiday surveyed a panel of media professionals on a number of topics, including how they and their employers were handling the prospect of returning to work in offices; 72 agency professionals and 59 publisher professionals answered questions about how their employers were approaching the issue of vaccines. 

Less than one-fifth of the respondents overall said that their employers were requiring all employees to get vaccinated. A slightly higher percentage of agency respondents indicated vaccines were required, though the disparity between the industries was within the margin of error. 

This low rate contrasts with the U.S. government’s ongoing attempts to mandate vaccinations for American workers. In early November, the Biden administration announced that the Department of Labor would require that businesses with over 100 employees ensure that their workers either be vaccinated or get tested on a weekly basis by Jan. 4, 2022. That requirement has received dozens of legal challenges, which are being considered by a federal appeals court.

Publisher and agency executives may be reluctant to apply strong requirements when so many of their workers are performing their jobs remotely, and expect to continue doing so. Digiday has asked survey panelists on a quarterly basis about their plans for returning to office work, and while the participants in each survey have not been consistent over time, the surveys have consistently shown that some measure of remote work will be a fixture in the media industry. Close to half the respondents of the most current survey have said that they can either work from home permanently or they haven’t heard anything concrete from their employers about when all employees will be expected back in the office.

None of the respondents indicated that their employers had disciplined anyone at their organizations for failing to comply with company policies. That may have to do with the fact that, as an industry, media professionals are above average in their vaccination rates — 93% of agency, and 96% of publisher respondents indicated they are vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to 70% of U.S. adults and 59% of the U.S. population as a whole. 


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