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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Friday, April 2nd

New travel guidance, protection without side effects and can fully vaccinated people transmit COVID?

ZHH Updates

Have You Registered for Our Webinar?

Half of your employees are anxiously looking forward to or have already received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but data shows there are another 30% who are still undecided or in a wait-and-see pattern. Reaching them is your business' key to getting back to “normal” and achieving herd immunity. But how do you do that?

We’ll be joined by Cathie Koch, GVP of Corporate Affairs for Bloomin’ Brands, and Sarah Spah, MSN with the Vaccine Branch of the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Response Division (formerly with the Mayo Clinic) for this timely conversation.

When: Wed., April 7 at 2 p.m. ET
Register Here

Today's Recap:

Best Questions:

What kinds of questions are employees asking you about COVID vaccinations?

In heartening news, by far the most common questions we are getting on our Vaccine Chat Line  are “Where can I get the vaccine?” and “Am I eligible?” That’s exciting, because it confirms that, at this point, the biggest barrier to employees getting the vaccine is access.  

Besides helping people determine when and how they can get vaccinated, we get lots of questions about vaccine safety and side effects. Things like “What side effects will I have?”, “Will I have to miss work?” and “How long will I feel sick?” are common. We also get asked about specific health situations - if the vaccine is safe if they are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a certain autoimmune disease, received monoclonal antibodies during their COVID treatment, or were recently exposed, among many other scenarios. 

Giving people access to reliable information that they can trust, especially in terms of addressing their specific situation, is key in helping them make an informed decision about whether to get vaccinated. 

To learn more about our Vaccine Chat Line, click here to book a demo

Why does my arm hurt so long after my COVID shot?

We’re hearing a lot about “COVID arm” - the reaction in your arm after you get the vaccine. It might include redness, swelling, itchiness or even swollen lymph nodes. This happens because the vaccine is causing an inflammatory response. That’s a good thing! It’s what the vaccine is supposed to do. The reaction is strong in your arm because that’s where the new vaccine first arrives, so your immune system kicks into overdrive there to make antibodies to fight this new thing. Luckily for you, that new thing is the vaccine, not the real virus. Most people’s arms only hurt for a day or two after, and many have it worse after the first shot than the second. It’s important to get the second shot at the right time, even if your arm is very sore after the first. 

Can an employee who was vaccinated 10 days ago continue to work if they have a close contact exposure?

This was the week’s most frequently asked question and the answer is, unfortunately, no. Someone is not fully protected until 14 days after their final dose of vaccine. We’ve reached out to our contacts at the CDC as well as to other public health experts, and they do not recommend shortening the quarantine period for "partially vaccinated" people, since they aren’t fully protected, and therefore may still be at risk for having and, potentially, transmitting the virus. 

For now, we recommend the same exclusions for those who are partially vaccinated as we do for those who aren't at all. At this time, we feel that the risk of allowing someone back to work early is still high given our very limited understanding of antibodies, protection and immunity before someone is fully vaccinated. 

With that said, we do expect that this will change as we get more data, including some promising early studies published in the past two days that show some exciting evidence that people are decently protected after their first dose of an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna. We’re hopeful that as we learn more about what antibody levels translate to protection, we might be able to reduce exclusions further for partially vaccinated people. 

I was in a COVID vaccine trial for Novavax or AstraZeneca and got vaccinated. Am I exempt from quarantine if I’m exposed? 

We don’t recommend it. First, there’s the issue that half the people in a vaccine trial get a placebo. In most clinical trials, you find out whether you received a placebo after the trial is over. If you did, you’ll usually be offered a real vaccine at a later date. Unless they’ve already concluded the trial and confirmed that you were in the experimental group, you can’t be sure if you received the vaccine or not.  But there’s another issue: the Novavax and AstraZeneca vaccines aren’t actually authorized in the US. So, while other governments may have approved them, the FDA hasn’t actually said they’re safe and effective for use yet. 

We don’t recommend treating those participating in clinical trials as though they’re vaccinated, at least not until we have written documentation that they received a legitimate vaccine, and that vaccine is authorized for emergency-use in the US. 

Best Read:

Businesses, health experts join ranks of 'vaccine passport' opponents.

Best Laugh:

Editorial Cartoon U.S. covid shots vaccine

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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.