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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

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
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.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.