There are 2.4 million people in Connecticut vaccinated against Covid-19. But that means there's about a million who are not.
The issue of vaccine mandates and what options to give employees has been a controversial one that's playing out in workplaces across the country.
But despite all the uncertainty, a manufacturing company in Pomfret can now say they have a 100% vaccinated staff.
Loos and Company put a vaccine requirement in place long before President Biden's mandate. The company has about 220 employees, and nearly all of them say they're happy with the company's decision.
"I do feel more safe here at this company. I think we can go into work every day knowing that the people around us are vaccinated. This pandemic has been so tough on everyone, the mortality rates have been just extreme and knowing that I can go to work and have one less thing to worry about has been very comforting to me," Claire Galvin, a marketing assistant, told NBC Connecticut.
"Our company not only worries about the safety of their employees, but the safety of the community as well, because I know here in Northeast Connecticut, it's been a struggle with vaccination rates. And to say that I worked somewhere that everybody employed here is vaccinated, it makes me feel good," added Amanda Champagne, a cable tech supervisor.
Paul From, the president and CEO of Central Wire Industries, which is the parent company of Loos and Company, sat down with NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran to talk about the company's success on the vaccine front.
Dan: "So, Paul, we haven't really heard of any companies having a 100% vaccination rate, how did your company get it done?"
From: "You know, we just started to communicate with all the employees in early August, about what we what we saw as the challenge in front of us how to deal with Covid, wow to deal with the mandate from the president, and how we treat this as a as an OSHA health and safety issue. And we gave ourselves until October 29, to accomplish that goal."
Dan: "Let's get specific about Connecticut, how many employees in this state just said 'no', and didn't get the shot? And how do you feel that they're no longer with your company?"
From: "Well, we had eight employees in Connecticut say 'no'. And I tried to engage with every employee in the whole company, including Connecticut, that had concerns and we just talked through it and really encouraged them to talk to their doctors, seek medical advice, and to consider getting the vaccine."
Dan: "Now, were there religious or medical exemptions available to these employees? And if so, did anybody take you up on that?"
From: "Yeah, there were absolutely. So we made it available religious and medical exemptions. In the entire company, I had five religious exemption requests and one medical exemption request. And, you know, the issue comes down to whether you can accommodate the request or not, I mean, I can understand the religious exemption request. But our facility, it's an open facility. I mean, I can't keep the vaccinated and the unvaccinated separated. So I really at the end of the day, I couldn't accommodate what they're asking for."
Dan: "Do you stand by this decision to require vaccinations for your employees?"
From: "Yes, 100%. Absolutely."
Dan: "And if an employee that left goes out and gets the shot now and shows that to you, folks, would they be able to get their job back?
Dan: "Do you have a message for other business leaders, business owners who are kind of in this thought process right now, but how to proceed? It is a touchy subject."
From: "Yeah, it is no question at all. And just remember, I mean, we're like, no, we're like every other company out there. We're facing the same challenges with respect to labor. So lots of people were very concerned at the beginning. I mean, what percentage of your employees are going to leave as a result of this request? And that fear of the unknown, I think stops a lot of people from making the mandate a requirement. I mean, when you think about the number of employees that we lost, I mean, it's, it's just over 1% spread company-wide. It wasn't the 20% that people said that we're going to leave. So don't be afraid of it. You will be shocked at the number of people that just will say, yeah, I get it. I'm going to get it. Remember, we have people that work in our company in Connecticut, that are fighting cancer that come in every single day to work and they are vaccinated. But if they get Covid while they're fighting cancer, that is a big problem. And nobody wants to see that happen."