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BOMA/Chicago Advocates for All Building Essential Workers to Be Covered Under Vaccination Phase 1B

February 1, 2021


In 2020, BOMA International successfully advocated for personnel related to property management to be classified as "essential workers" under federal guidance. The definition is as follows:

“Workers supporting the operations of commercial buildings that are critical to safety, security, and the continuance of essential activities, such as on-site property managers, building engineers, security staff, fire safety directors, janitorial personnel, and service technicians (e.g., mechanical, HVAC, plumbers, electricians, and elevator).”

The State of Illinois prioritizes essential workers among Phase 1 substages using the federal guidelines. The State may adjust those guidelines based on local conditions, and the City of Chicago can then modify the State's prioritization if warranted.

In Illinois and Chicago, "security officers" are included in Phase 1B, and we have advocated and confirmed with the City that building security personnel are included, whether directly employed by the building or provided by a contractor.

All other workers who are critical to the continuance of essential commercial building activities (custodial teams, engineers, property managers, etc.) will be eligible for vaccination in Phase 1C.

BOMA/Chicago created a coalition with SEIU Local 1 and IUOE Local 399 and have jointly asked the Governor and IDPH to escalate all our industry’s essential workers to Phase 1B. We will keep you informed about this advocacy effort.

Next Steps: Getting Your Employees Vaccinated

BOMA/Chicago is also simultaneously working to expedite vaccinations for our members.

Chicago began Phase 1B of vaccination on Monday, January 25, but vaccine supply is limited. There are two main categories in Phase 1B: Chicagoans who are 65+ and frontline essential workers. Current estimates are that Phase 1C groups (all Chicagoans age 16-64 with underlying medical conditions and all other essential workers) may become eligible in April, and that all Chicagoans will be able to get vaccinated in Phase 2, which will tentatively begin in June. Vaccine supply is still scarce nationwide, however, and proceeding through the phases depends on actual supply.

As essential workers in BOMA/Chicago buildings become eligible for vaccinations, every company will need to determine the best way to distribute vaccinations to their employees.

There are three paths for businesses who employ 1B and 1C essential workers to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to their employees:

  1. Enroll to become a provider. This pathway requires you to be the vaccinating entity and to have the experience to store and administer vaccines safely. It is likely not practical for most of our members.
  2. Get vaccinated at City of Chicago-administered vaccination sites. This pathway is also likely not ideal for our members. The City has established roughly eight locations throughout the City (not downtown) to vaccinate eligible workers directly. However, the City's sites are generally intended for workers who do not have traditional access to healthcare through their employer, and an employer cannot participate if it has 250 or more employees across all its Chicago locations. If you would like to register for this option, you must fill out the following survey.
  3. Partner with a provider. This is the path that will be relevant for most of our industry. The City is encouraging employers to vaccinate their employees through their existing healthcare benefit providers (for example, by reaching out to pharmacies within your benefits plans to confirm whether your employees will be able to get vaccinated at their local pharmacies) or by partnering with other third party providers to arrange for on-site group vaccinations.

The same process would apply for “essential worker” members of your team who are employed by contractors--those contractors would need to arrange for their employees to receive the vaccine under one of the above paths. An exception is for union members for whom healthcare benefits are provided by the union, such as SEIU Local 1 and IUOE Local 399. In that circumstance, the unions and not the employers are the point of contact for the conversations with healthcare providers.

BOMA/Chicago is exploring ways to simplify the vaccination process and improve access by leveraging our collective scale. We are exploring whether we can engage an approved third-party provider as an association, to create downtown vaccination sites available by appointment to our members. Members would be able to opt in without sending any employee or health-related information to BOMA/Chicago—eligible employees would register and book appointments directly with the provider. We are also in discussions about the program with SEIU Local 1 and IUOE Local 399. Before we proceed further, we need to know if enough BOMA/Chicago members are interested.

If you are interested in this initiative, look for an email from BOMA/Chicago with a survey link dated February 1, 2021. If you did not receive the email, please contact Amy Masters, Director of Marketing and Communications, for more information.