Sara Lonardo,, 202/412-2153

Issued December 21, 2020

SEIU encourages its two million members to get COVID-19 vaccine

Nation’s largest health care union releases seven principles for vaccine distribution

WASHINGTON—The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today released seven principles it’s calling on employers, public health officials and elected officials to follow during distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The principles were proposed by a task force of local leaders representing the breadth of SEIU membership and adopted by the Union’s International Executive Board. SEIU is the largest healthcare workers union in the nation, with about half of its two million members working in hospitals, home care, nursing homes and other care settings.

“Essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic are demanding to be respected, protected and paid,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “Adhering to a set of commonsense principles is one way corporations and elected leaders can back up words of support and show working people they are truly valued. This is most important in communities of color, which have borne both the economic and health brunt of this virus. We need to unrig the rules so all working people can have a better life, and an equitable recovery begins with equitable vaccine distribution to essential workers.” 

The principles are:

  1. Vaccines are a proven technology to prevent the spread of disease. The COVID vaccine is a critical tool to protect our families, ourselves, and our communities as we fight to put an end to this deadly virus. We encourage SEIU members to take the vaccine.
  2. Vaccine distribution must be equitable and transparent and must prioritize communities hardest hit by the virus, including essential workers, people with underlying health conditions and disproportionately impacted communities of color.  
  3. Vaccines must be provided free of charge, and workers should be provided with paid time off if the vaccination process requires them to miss work. 
  4. Employers must not use vaccines as a substitute for worker safety and infection control protocols nor for ensuring access to personal protective equipment.
  5. Vaccine distribution plans must include education and outreach activities that involve essential workers and our communities deeply and meaningfully. 
  6. Outreach and distribution plans must recognize the impact of structural racism in causing trauma and heightened levels of distrust about vaccination in Black and brown communities. 
  7. The best approach to encouraging universal vaccination is through education and outreach, not through making vaccination mandatory.

On March 18, SEIU members and other essential workers on the pandemic frontlines launched the Protect all Workers campaign to call on government at all levels as well as leading industries -- from airline and healthcare to fast-food and beyond -- to take immediate, sweeping and concrete actions to protect the health, safety and financial security of all working people. The principles released today represent the latest step in realizing the changes demanded by essential workers across the nation.

SEIU healthcare members from California to Michigan to New York have already begun to receive their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine. To speak with one of them, or a member of SEIU leadership, please contact