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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly half of employers say they're at least considering the idea of requiring proof of vaccination as a condition for employees return to in-person work, according to a survey from Willis Towers Watson.

Why it matters: The gradual upticks in mass vaccinations has allowed America's workforce to begin to picture reopened office buildings.

The big picture: Federal law prohibits employers and others from requiring vaccination with a COVID-19 vaccine distributed under emergency authorization.

By the numbers: 34% of employers said they are planning or considering mandating vaccines as a condition of employment, according to the WTW report, which surveyed 494 businesses employing 6.4 million people.

  • Still, employers expect nearly two in five employees will still be working remotely at the end of 2021, compared with 57% who work remotely now, varying by industry.

Yes, but: Vaccine mandates do risk backlash, Ross Silverman, a professor at Indiana University, told Pew Charitable Trusts, and it could be better for companies to encourage vaccination and make it easily available for those who want it if possible, he said.

  • “That’s really where I think most of the conversations should be leaning, is how can you make workplaces safe as a system,” he said, “rather than trying to create a requirement for vaccination.” 
  • 65% of employers said they are planning or considering exploring vendor solutions to provide vaccines, according to the WTW survey.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show that COVID-19 vaccines under emergency authorization cannot be required by employers and others.

Go deeper: There probably won't be a lot of vaccine mandates

Go deeper

Feb 25, 2021 - Health

"This is a race": Fauci urges Americans to take whatever COVID vaccine is available

Dr. Anthony Fauci Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci is encouraging Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine if it becomes available, regardless of which one it is.

Why it matters: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will be administered in a single shot instead of two doses as required by the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, is expected to soon receive emergency authorization. Fauci said people should not wait to take the marginally more effective vaccines if the Johnson & Johnson shot becomes available to them.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
12 mins ago - Technology

Meet your doctor's AI assistant

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Artificial intelligence is breaking into the doctor's office, with new models that can transcribe, analyze and even offer predictions based on written notes and conversations between physicians and their patients.

Why it matters: AI models can increasingly be trained on what we tell our doctors, now that they're starting to understand our written notes and even our conversations. That will open up new possibilities for care — and new concerns about privacy.