Moderna is working on a booster, and Pfizer confirmed that their vaccines are less effective against the South African variant. Pfiizers says it could easily design a new vaccine that’s more effective against it, but actually producing it is the hard part. We may see COVID vaccines as bivalent or trivalent (designed to address 2 or 3 strains) just like our current flu shot is now a quadrivalent vaccine.
Information (and misinformation) surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and pregnant women or women planning on getting pregnant may be leading to increased vaccine hesitancy. The real facts are that no one has studied these vaccines on pregnant women, so we just don’t know. The WHO only recommends vaccination for pregnant women who have high exposure risk, like healthcare workers.
We’ve got some new preliminary data from Novavax’s vaccine, which was almost 90% effective in a UK trial. However, when it came to the South African variant, it proved to be far less effective - only 49%.
Phones across New York started ringing right after Governor Cuomo announced NYC dining could re-open to 25% on Valentine’s Day and weddings for up to 150 people could take place if guests are all tested. Sweethearts started calling for reservations and brides across the state started calling their venues and testing sites.
Can someone who has been exposed to Covid-19 still get vaccinated?
The CDC and ACIP recommend waiting until after the incubation period passes (14 days). It is difficult to determine if vaccine side-effects are side-effects or COVID that was previously incubating. This is especially important when someone has had close contact with someone with COVID. Sometimes other vaccines, like Hep A, are given prophylactically post- exposure. There is no data supporting that current COVID-19 vaccines are effective to prevent infection post-exposure / close contact.
Should my employees be tested for COVID (or COVID antibodies) before getting vaccinated?
There is no recommendation for testing prior to vaccination. If you’re actively symptomatic or know you’re positive, or if you’re exposed (see the question above) you should delay vaccination until you’re out of isolation and any symptoms are resolving. But currently vaccination is still recommended for people who have recovered from COVID, so there’s no need to test for it if you have no symptoms and no exposure, or if you’ve had it and recovered.
Are employees going to need booster doses or annual COVID vaccination?
We don’t know the answer to that yet. The spread of these new variants lead us to believe that a booster dose or annual vaccination is more and more likely. In that case, you might need a booster shot in a year or two, or it will be more like an annual flu shot.
We’ve had issues with employees with TB before. What should we know about Tuberculosis and COVID?
TB appears annually on our top ten list of what you call us about. Now we’ve seen several cases where someone with confirmed COVID was also found to have latent (and, in at least one case, active) TB in their workups when COVID symptoms persisted. Anyone receiving the COVID-19 vaccine should defer TB tests for four weeks after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine series if it wasn't done before the 1st COVID-19 vaccine was administered. Clearly, we may be hearing much more about this as TB continues to circulate. And anyone suspected to have TB should be tested for it before the COVID vaccine is administered (it can be done at the same time, but the TB test should be first). Many of your employees who are also healthcare workers are wrestling with their annual TB testing requirements and the impact on vaccination timing.
We’re so encouraged by the news that case counts are down dramatically over the past week or two. But we also need to acknowledge that most viruses are seasonal and spread more in the winter - perhaps because we spend more time indoors or maybe because of something about the virus’ make up. Either way, we need to continue to be vigilant this winter, avoid combining households unless absolutely necessary, mask (or double-mask!), and keep it up until most of the world is vaccinated.
To incentivize or not, that is the question at the forefront of every employer’s mind as we continue to navigate the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines. In this FREE webinar, you’ll hear from Roslyn Stone, COO of Zero Hour Health and founder of Zedic, Claire Deason, Shareholder at Littler Mendelson Employment Law, and Dr. Monique Foster, leading medical epidemiologist from the US Public Health Service of the CDC. They will discuss the latest updates on employee vaccine incentives, tracking, and, as always, will leave plenty of time for your questions.
Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same. No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.