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The Executive Briefing - Friday, October 29th

Booster FAQs, plus OSHA ETS next week?

New Podcast Episode Out Today with Sarah Lockyer!

You may know Sarah Lockyer as the former Publisher and Editor of Nation's Restaurant News, the preeminent foodservice industry editorial and a leader in the space. Sarah has just begun a new role as the Chief Brand Officer of the Elliot Group, the top executive search firm in the foodservice industry, and is here to talk about her experience and where she sees the future of restaurants, The Elliot Group, and more.

Listen now wherever you get your podcasts!

COVID Recap:

  • Bloomberg reports that the new OSHA ETS will likely be published next Wednesday or Thursday (after election day) and will allow employers to charge unvaccinated employees who don’t have exemptions for weekly testing. (Bloomberg)
  • Becton-Dickinson started shipping its BD Veritor rapid antigen test through Amazon this week. It’s an app-enabled test approved for home use that helps interpret results. It also reports results to public health which other home tests don’t - part of why there’s widespread underreporting of COVID. (PR Newswire)
  • Enforcement of indoor vaccine mandates is proving to be uneven. (AP)
  • A federal judge dismissed the suit related to vaccine mandates from pilots at Southwest Airlines. (MedPageToday)
  • Today, one of the most aggressive vaccine mandates in the US goes into effect in NYC. The city is preparing for the fallout, with widespread protests. A judge just upheld it after a challenge from the police union. (NY Times)
  • The antidepressant fluvoxamine led to significantly better outcomes in COVID patients in a large clinical trial. It’s relatively cheap, and might get the official nod as a COVID treatment soon. (NY Times)
  • Some immunocompromised people might be eligible for a fourth shot six months after their third. Their immune systems can’t mount a full response each time, so extra doses can help them build protection. (CBS)
  • Ohio State University has applied for FDA Emergency Use Authorization for a new COVID test that uses a breathalyzer.  (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Among the many rules for re-opening in Ireland, you’ll need to reserve a ticket online to visit a club, queue six feet apart to buy a drink, and no crowd surfing.  (Yahoo News)
  • A new study shows that vaccinated people with breakthrough cases are nearly  just as infectious to their household members as those who are unvaccinated.  A fully vaccinated contact had a 25% chance of catching the virus from an infected household member while an unvaccinated contact had a 38% chance. (Lancet)
  • SHRM reports that 90% of employers are concerned about the impact of the impending OSHA ETS and difficulty in managing its requirements. 80% are concerned about the time required to administer it.  And two in five are concerned about possible turnover resulting from the mandate. (SHRM)
  • A new CDC confirms that vaccination provides more protection than a previous COVID infection. Unvaccinated people who already got COVID once were more than 5x more likely to get COVID again than those who got vaccinated. (CDC)

Today’s Health News:

  • Pandemic drinking has led to record numbers of liver transplants. (USA Today)
  • The  Hep A outbreak in Virginia tied to a restaurant has now grown to 50 people with one fatality and one person requiring a liver transplant. (WFXR)
  • The CDC is worried about low flu vaccination coverage in kids and pregnant women this year. Kids are down 6% and pregnant women down 15% from last year. They’re concerned about a twindemic of flu and COVID this winter. (CDC)

Best Questions

Should we be encouraging employees to get their kids vaccinated?

Yes! As long as employees have unvaccinated kids at home, there will still be cycles of illness and exposures, and they’ll likely miss work. Shots for kids 5-12 may be available as early as next week, and we recommend that you encourage your employees to get them vaccinated. Communication campaigns encouraging vaccination for kids, paid time off to go with their child to the pharmacy, clinic or doctor, and even something as simple as talking about how excited you are to get your own kids vaccinated are all effective ways to encourage vaccination for employees and their families.

Should we be encouraging employees to get their booster doses?

Another yes! Most of our clients’ employees are eligible for a booster either through their job (food, agriculture, manufacturing, grocery stores, and many other industries are considered ‘high risk’ settings by the CDC), or due to age or underlying medical conditions. Anyone 18+ who got the J&J shot is eligible, as well.  Boosters can help your employees mount a stronger immune response, which means they’re less likely to get sick with COVID if they get exposed, so it’s absolutely worth it to encourage boosters - and flu shots! - for your eligible employees.

Do we expect that the definition of fully vaccinated may change with boosters?

The CDC has indicated that there is a possibility that the definition of fully vaccinated will change at a later date.  But for now, two weeks after two doses of the mRNA vaccines and two weeks after a single dose of J&J are still considered fully vaccinated. If we had to guess, we’d say the most likely to change definitions first would be the J&J shot, as more research comes out showing significantly higher protection after a second dose.

I had a single dose of J&J.  Should I get a booster dose?

Yes, if you have a single dose of J&J, the CDC recommends another dose two months after your first. If you got yours back in the spring or summer, it’s time to get an additional dose, since research shows that a second dose offers significantly more protection against COVID than the single dose. The CDC does allow for mix and match shots, and some doctors are recommending a booster of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for those who first got a J&J shot, after a study from the NIH showed that following up a J&J dose with an mRNA dose could provide a stronger immune response than a second dose of J&J.

Best Read

7 Employer Takeaways from EEOC’s Latest Vaccine Guidance on Religious Accommodations

Best Laugh

Jimmy Kimmel’s COVID-Safe Halloween Costume Pageant

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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.