Should Production Companies Demand All Cast and Crew Be Vaccinated?

Is it time production companies demand all cast and crew be vaccinated
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According to recent reports, production companies, producers, and SAG-AFTRA have reached an agreement on mandatory vaccinations for everyone working on set.  The industry's return-to-work safety protocol agreement will expire on June 30th.  The SAG-AFTRA national board recently approved strict guidelines for employers to follow for mandatory vaccinations of casts and crews on set.

According to industry publication Deadline, the union has received numerous requests from both producers and members supporting mandatory vaccinations.  I have to agree.

It’s impossible to avoid being near others when you’re working on set.  Unmasked actors are the most vulnerable.  I worked on several jobs during the pandemic, and even with all the COVID-19 testing, it never felt completely safe.

Now that vaccines are widely available, it makes sense for production companies and producers to minimize risk as much as possible and require vaccinations.  Here are my top 5 reasons for supporting mandatory vaccinations before coming to set:

  1. It improves safety on set.

Yes, there will still be compliance officers, testing, and presumably masks.  But everyone, including the actors, deserves to know that the work environment is as safe as it can possibly be, with the pandemic not yet wholly conquered.

  1. Testing is not foolproof.

Could a person be in the incubation phase of having COVID-19, before it shows up in a test?  From what I've read, that's a possibility.

Testing is an indicator, while vaccinations offer protection against the virus.  Getting a test doesn't mean you don't need a vaccination, especially when you're working around unmasked people.

3. Children are not yet being vaccinated.

Many cast and crew members have unvaccinated young children at home.  It's not fair to expect them to work near unvaccinated co-workers, possibly endangering their own families.

No one should have to choose between going to work and keeping their kids safe when there's a vaccine readily available.

4. Insurance coverage for independent productions.

It’s been challenging for independent producers to get insurance coverage for productions during the pandemic.  Overall, costs have skyrocketed.

Although I don’t have statistics for how many films didn’t get made during the pandemic due to increased costs, I suspect there are at least a few.  Those are lost jobs for cast and crew members.

Hopefully, with widespread vaccinations, the landscape will improve for independent productions.

5. Science should come before people’s individual beliefs about vaccinations.

There are a wide variety of beliefs surrounding COVID-19.  Some people even think the whole thing’s a hoax, and it doesn’t exist at all.  Frankly, people can have whatever views they want.

We all have to work around others in film production.  We don’t sit isolated in an office all day, where our decisions only affect ourselves. Instead, we interact closely with other people all day long.

Science shows that the vaccine is safe and effective.  That should be the determining factor as to whether it’s mandatory.


It seems incredible to me that less fortunate people in other countries are literally dying for vaccines, and we have them widely available, and some people won't get vaccinated.

I suppose that's their choice.  It stops being a legitimate choice when unvaccinated people want to work on a crowded film set around other people.  The rights of the individual should not take precedence over the safety of everyone else.

I'm surprised that 25% of the SAG-AFTRA national board voted against the mandatory vaccination guidelines, as the guild's members are most at risk.  I suspect any medical or religious exemptions to the new rules will be narrow.

We should know more after June 30th, when the unions and producers formally announce the changes to the return-to-work agreement.  Hopefully, we'll be one step closer to safe and healthy sets that we can feel confident going to every day.

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