Vaccinating the U.S. public won't be easy, but it's pretty much the only way to regain a sense of normalcy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. So far, mass vaccination centers have been popping up all over the country, and some in surprising places -- like vacant Sears (OTCMKTS: SHLDQ) stores, for example.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) wants to help make vaccines more accessible to the public. To this end, it's planning to open some of its offices as COVID-19 vaccine clinics. The tech giant is working with healthcare provider One Medical to set up these sites in buildings as well as parking lots.
The first Google vaccination sites are set to open in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. Google then plans to expand its vaccine clinics on a national level as a need arises.
Of course, all of this is good news from a public health perspective. But it may have a positive, albeit unintended, impact on real estate investors as well.
Will Google's efforts get workers back into offices sooner?
Last year, Google was one of the first major employers to announce that its staff would continue working remotely until well into 2021. But now that it's offering up its office space to facilitate distribution of vaccines, it could help achieve a couple of important milestones that could prove valuable to real estate investors.
First, the sooner the public is vaccinated, the sooner it'll be safe to return to offices. Seeing as how office buildings are already looking at a prolonged recovery, that's essential for individuals and real estate investment trusts (REITs) heavily invested in office space.
Secondly, bringing people into office buildings for vaccine purposes may inspire them to ask to return to their respective places of work once it's safe to do so. Many companies are making plans to keep their staff remote on a long-term basis in an effort to reap cost savings. But that will require buy-in from workers, some of whom may be on the fence about continuing to do their jobs from home in a post-coronavirus world. By having people enter a workplace -- even if not their own -- it could jog emotions that prompt more employees to request to return to their offices after the pandemic.
In addition to offering up its offices, Google is also providing $100 million in advertising grants to help nonprofit organizations like the CDC Foundation run public service announcements to help people get information on how to obtain a vaccine. It will also earmark an additional $50 million to help public health agencies target underserved communities.
Google also plans to feature state and regional vaccine distribution details in its search engine. Not surprisingly, users are increasingly looking for information on how to get a shot. By making it easier to get vaccinated on all fronts, Google is doing its part to slowly but surely help bring the pandemic to a close -- and help life return to normal in time.