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COVID-19 Briefing - Tuesday, 12/29

All the latest updates on vaccine rollout

Today's Recap:

  • We’re seeing an unprecedented rise in failed daily wellness checks (symptom surveys). This past Saturday, the day after Christmas, 20% more employees failed than our previous highest day.  Every day since then has been similar and we expect next week will be even higher after people gather on New Year’s Eve.
  • Wondering why the holidays are leading to such rapid spread even when people are scaling down and being “careful”? Check out this great Twitter thread from Dr. Dara Kass telling one family’s story of how a small get-together (with testing!) led to an outbreak.
  • Administering vaccines to large employee populations is complicated - from scheduling to socially-distanced waiting in line (and for 20 mins after you get your shot).   Hospitals currently vaccinating have important lessons for us.
  • And healthcare workers describe a vaccination “free-for-all” as vaccination proceeds at large healthcare systems without strong oversight or coordination.
  • Meanwhile, an urgent care clinic in NY is facing possible charges after offering vaccine to the public before they’re eligible according to the state’s rollout plan.
  • And we’re way off track on vaccination rollout nationally - only 2.1 million people have received their first shot, meaning we’re not likely to hit the stated goal of 20 million people vaccinated by the end of 2021.
  • Some relatively young post-COVID patients are developing severe psychosis, according to some small studies in the UK and Spain, and anecdotal evidence from doctors across the world.
  • AstraZeneca’s vaccine is likely to be approved in the UK this week, and will likely be rolled out next week in the UK.
  • Novavax will enter Phase 3 trials in the US for it’s vaccine, which only requires refrigeration rather than freezing.
  • Spain will register residents who choose not to be vaccinated, and share that list with the EU, reports say.  
  • The newest studies seem to support that post-COVID antibodies may protect you for up to 6 months, twice as long as previously thought.

Best Questions:

When do you think that vaccinations for essential workers will begin?

That’s hard to say, in part because it will differ from state to state.  Some states are already talking about getting started while others haven’t even defined essential workers.  There is tremendous variability in speed of vaccine administration by state and that will clearly dictate when they’ll be ready to move to the next phase, even more so than vaccine availability which has expanded.

Will employees need to show employee IDs to prove they are essential workers?

We don’t think so.  Here’s how it has looked so far (and again, this will vary by state):  You will receive a notification telling you that your employees are eligible based on the nature of your work. It will ask you to register with VAMS (the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System) and then you’ll receive subsequent emails with instructions from your state(s).  Ours asked us to upload an employee file or to enter names and emails for eligible employees.  This is a work in progress.  Hopefully your state advocacy groups (like restaurant associations or Chambers of Commerce) will all be sending out information on when and how you can do this.

What’s our top priority for vaccinations?

Communications - starting ASAP.  You need to develop robust vaccine advocacy communication plans that will last months (or years).  Many health education experts (and infectious disease specialists) think social media is your best communication tool.  But you’ll need a multi-pronged approach with everything from top down support (you all getting vaccinated and sharing pics) to a vaccine champion at each site.  

Will we need to track employee vaccinations?

Yes. You’ll need to know who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t.  We expect exclusions may vary based on that status.  We’ll be reaching out to our clients with our vaccine tracking implementation plans.  

Best Read:

MedPage Today’s podcast Track the Vax does a great job covering the topic of vaccine hesitancy. Read the interview transcript below or listen to the 28 minute podcast.

How Do We Inject Confidence Into Vaccine Hesitant Americans? - Read or Listen

Best Laugh:

Or not, since we have our vaccine advocacy work cut out for us...

And last but not least, don't forget to register for our upcoming webinar!

Webinar: Employer Vaccination & Testing in 2021

Wednesday, January 6th
3pm EST

We'll cover the latest topics around vaccination, testing, and other key employer issues in the New Year.

Register here!

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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.