Amid pressure from the federal government and their own workers, a majority of U.S. employers now say they will have one or more COVID-19 vaccine mandates in place by the end of the year.

A Willis Towers Watson survey of 961 companies found that 52% plan to require employees to be vaccinated in the fourth quarter, a significant increase from the 21% that had such mandates in place this summer.

Mandates would range from requiring vaccines to use common areas like cafeterias to requiring certain groups of employees to get vaccinated to requiring vaccines for all workers.

In addition, a growing number of employers said they would track their workers’ vaccination status, with 59% saying they do so currently and 19% saying they plan to by the end of the year.

“We have reached a point in the pandemic where employers that have worked hard to make it easy for employees to get vaccinated are also considering approaches to make it more difficult for employees to remain unvaccinated,” Jeff Levin-Scherz, population health leader at Willis Towers Watson, said in a news release.

As Fierce Healthcare reports, “While healthcare organizations like hospitals have led the charge in vaccine mandates, employers in other sectors have been hesitant to do the same, instead mulling alternatives to incentivize workers to get the shot such as offering scheduling flexibility for vaccine appointments.”

But according to Levin-Scherz, “The Delta variant has made employers take new actions to keep their workers — and workplaces — safe and healthy.”

President Joe Biden last week urged employers in the private sector to “step up” vaccine requirements after the FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. “If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that and require it,” he said.

The Willis Towers survey also mirrors a Gallup poll that found that 52% of U.S. workers want their employer to require a COVID vaccine, with 36% strongly in favor.

Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

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