United States President Joe Biden will meet top business leaders on Wednesday to push companies to require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The president’s meeting with industry leaders comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the US over the last few days. Chief executives of Walt Disney, Microsoft, Walgreen Boots Alliance Inc are expected to be present at the meeting with the president.
Last week, President Biden mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for all federal employees, federal contractors and larger companies. The gradual move towards mandatory vaccinations comes as the US faces a steep surge in COVID-19 cases with hospitals in some parts of the country filling up. Mask requirements have also returned.
The White House initially attempted to vaccinate the whole US populace for free without requiring a mandate. But with some Republican-led states and a significant minority of Americans defying vaccine recommendations from health officials, the administration is re-thinking its strategy and pushing for state and local governments as well as schools and companies to adopt vaccine mandates.
The resistance to vaccinations is coming from some Republican-led states and a section of the populace who are citing economic and freedom-of-choice arguments. But with only 63% of the US population having received at lease one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccination rate in the US is lower than most developed economies.
Opinion polls have shown that most Americans would want some form of a vaccine mandate, according to a Reuters report. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, President Biden said that he had seen positive support for mandates. Biden did concede that there would always be a small portion of people who will refuse to get inoculated.
Wednesday’s meeting with industry leaders is aimed at making more and more organisations require their members to get vaccinated. The White House hopes that Wednesday’s meeting will serve as a “rallying cry for more businesses across the country to step up and institute similar measures,” an official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.