HOUSTON – More and more Houston area businesses are choosing to mandate vaccinations or are considering doing so.
The Greater Houston Partnership conducted a survey this month of its members and of the 147 companies that responded, 23% have instituted some form of a vaccine mandate.
That’s up by almost triple from the same survey in June when 8% of companies said vaccines were required. An additional 30% of companies said they are “considering” a vaccine mandate for employees.
“Fundamentally we think it’s the right thing to do,” said Ric Campo, CEO of Camden, an apartment living company with 500-600 employees in Houston. “Vaccinations are what solves the coronavirus problem long-term.”
Campo said four employees have quit over the requirement, and another 90 are undecided or against vaccines, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive otherwise.
“People over time have gotten more comfortable with it and we think it’s going well,” he said.
In fact, other CEOs have been calling Campo as they consider their own mandate.
“Over the last week I’ve probably talked to six company CEOs,” he said. “I think that we’re on the cusp of having a lot of companies mandate vaccination.”
Houston area hospitals are among the local entities that have mandated vaccines. The Hobby Center also requires vaccinations for its staff.
Graham Media Group, based in Detroit, which owns KPRC 2, has also instituted a vaccine mandate.
Many companies, including Camden and GMG, allow for limited religious and medical exemptions.
“Frankly, one of the reasons we did the survey was to prompt a little bit more interest,” said Greater Houston Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey. “You ask a question like this and people pay more attention.”
“We didn’t expect to see a tripling, frankly, of the number of companies requiring the vaccine,” he added. “In that respect we were surprised and I would say we were pleasantly surprised.”
The survey also found that an increasing number of companies in the Houston area are offering incentives to get the shot, including cash incentives.
Forty-six percent of survey respondents said they had no plans to mandate vaccines for their employees.
Roughly 40 percent of eligible Harris County residents are not vaccinated, or about 1.2 million employees in the region, Harvey said.
“That’s the group we are trying to get to,” Harvey added. “There are those that will never take it voluntarily but there are others, a larger population, that simply need the encouragement.”