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COVID-19 Briefing - Friday, 1/29

Do vaccines protect against the variants? Should pregnant women get vaccinated?

Today's Recap:

Best Questions:

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.

Best Read:

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.

The coronavirus in winter may be worse than scientists thought

Best Laugh:

Reminder: Upcoming Webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 3rd at 3 p.m. ET

Register for our free webinar

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.

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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.