Specialist: Getting workers vaccinated should be execs’ top COVID concern

ID Care’s Nahass: ‘It's about creating a safe environment — and a safe environment is one in which everyone is vaccinated’

Before business executives try to figure out how to interact with clients and customers who are not fully vaccinated — and that’s a whole other issue — infectious disease specialist Dr. Ronald Nahass said those who run companies should make another topic the top priority: Getting their own employees vaccinated.

“That’s the top concern,” he said. “It’s about creating a safe environment — and a safe environment is one in which everyone is vaccinated.”

Nahass, the longtime head of ID Care, the largest physician group for infectious disease specialists in the state, said protection begins with those you’ll interact with on a regular basis.

“If they are not, try to understand why and help them understand why the benefit of the vaccine is far greater than not being vaccinated,” he said. “Hands down, slam dunk, the benefit of this vaccine far outweighs any danger from the vaccine — and that the vaccine is far less dangerous than the disease.

“We need to keep hammering that home.”

Creating a safe work environment around those employees brings more challenges.

Nahass said he was happy to see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announce that COVID-19 primarily is transmitted through the air — meaning workplaces can back away from the cleaning and wiping that Nahass said always has been based more on hysteria than science.

“They changed their guidance about surfaces about a month ago, but that doesn’t mean everybody has adopted them,” he said. “There are still people running around, wiping every doodad they can find.”

Nahass wishes the CDC would speak more to the challenges of “purifying” the air.

“They said it’s an airborne disease, but what they didn’t do was provide guidance on how to improve your air,” he said. “So, that left it up to the businesses that specialize in air to tell you what you need, as opposed to having someone who actually understands it tell you what you need.”

Nahass has long felt air purifiers may be cleaning the air, but they are not necessarily preventing the spread of COVID-19.

That prevention, he said, comes with vaccination. It’s why Nahass feels businesses should do all they can to keep people who are not vaccinated out of the workplace and out of common areas.

Nahass salutes the efforts of the New York Yankees and Broadway to create areas where only vaccinated people are allowed and is “all in” on vaccination passports.

Nahass said there should be more concern about limiting access for those who are not vaccinated than opening access for those who are.

“The people who don’t get vaccinated should keep their masks on, the people who don’t get vaccinated should not be in a restaurant, the people who don’t get vaccinated should not be allowed to socialize,” he said.

Nahass admits it will be a challenge. But it’s one he feels society should be able to handle.

“We’re spending an awful lot of effort and dollars to get this vaccine out there,” he said. “We should be able to figure this part out, too.”

Making sure your own staff is vaccinated should be easier, he said.

“Who doesn’t want a safe work environment?” he said.