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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Friday, June 4th

COVID czars, a universal flu vaccine and more TB cases?

COVID Recap

  • If your employees are holding off on getting vaccinated because of fears that it might impact their health and life insurance coverage, there’s no need to worry. The only way you may be denied coverage is if you get sick before your policy clears the standard 15- to 30-day enrollment period. (Yahoo Finance
  • Cal-OSHA announced that workers in their state can go maskless, but only if every employee in that room is fully vaccinated. The new rules are scheduled to take effective June 15. (Yahoo)
  • Employers are continuing to play bigger roles in the pandemic as restrictions ease, including taking on the role of “COVID czars”. (Bloomberg
  • The WHO has authorized CoronaVac, a COVID vaccine made by Sinovac, for emergency use. (New York Times)
  • The mRNA technology used in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines has proven to be so effective that scientists are looking at how they might help with diseases like HIV, autoimmune diseases, cancers and more. (CNN)
  • In its new “month of action” initiative, the White House announced a list of incentives that they hope will increase US COVID vaccinations to 70%. A few of them include free childcare at specific locations, educational campaigns and free Lyft and Uber rides. (White House)
  • Mothers are particularly hesitant to get the COVID vaccine for themselves and their children, in part, because of concerns that they hadn’t been adequately studied, according to new data. (MedPage Today)


Today's Health News

  • The Supreme Court ruled to uphold a 2020 verdict which requires J&J to pay a group of women who say they developed ovarian cancer from their talc products. (Associated Press)
  • NIH has started a clinical trial of a universal flu vaccine. It’s designed to provide protection against multiple flu strains, which is important since it could one day eliminate the need for annual flu shots! (NIH)
  • Some good news: it appears the pandemic made the flu virus less diverse last year, which makes designing next year’s flu shot easier and more effective (STAT).
  • The FDA is asking food technology solution providers, public health advocates, entrepreneurs and innovators to present affordable food traceability solutions to protect people from contaminated food. (FDA
  • A new CDC report shows that HIV cases have dropped by nearly three-quarters in the last 40 years. (CDC)
  • A county in Indiana voted to shut down its syringe exchange program that’s said to have contained a large HIV outbreak in 2015. It’s set to close by Jan. 1, 2022. Unfortunately, this could lead to increased Hep C transmission in the area, along with HIV. (The Hill)
  • The CDC is investigating a multi-state Salmonella outbreak that’s linked to breaded stuffed chicken. A total of 17 illnesses and eight hospitalizations have been reported. (CDC)


Best Questions


Do I need to participate in routine COVID testing at work if I’m vaccinated? 

Generally no. The CDC has said that people don’t need to be regularly tested for COVID, even if they were exposed, as long as they're symptom-free. Your company may choose a different policy, but generally the likelihood of fully vaccinated people having or spreading COVID while asymptomatic is extremely low. 


Now that other non-COVID viruses are back, can we get some employees back to work sooner?

Yes. Based on low case counts and more non-COVID illnesses circulating again, our clinical team is moving forward with a slight easing of restrictions around who can return to work in fewer than 10 days. Employees who have a negative COVID test, a doctor’s note clearing them to work, and who are symptom-free may be cleared to return earlier, even if they were previously given a 10-day exclusion based on their symptoms. This is because we’re starting to see lower COVID case counts and more fully vaccinated people, but we’re also seeing higher instances of colds, allergies and other illnesses that aren’t COVID. 


An employee told us they can’t get vaccinated because they had COVID recently. Is that true?

Generally, anyone can be vaccinated even if they’ve recently had COVID, as long as they meet the criteria for ending their own self-isolation (i.e. 10 days, 24 hours fever-free, etc.). The only exception is those who received monoclonal antibody therapy or convalescent plasma while being treated for COVID. Those people need to wait 90 days before they can be vaccinated. Anyone else, barring a few rare medical exceptions, should be eligible for vaccination as soon as they’ve recovered from COVID. 

We’ve had a few cases of TB lately. Are you seeing that nationwide? 

Yes, we’ve seen a fair amount of tuberculosis (TB) in the last several weeks. In many of these cases, what looked like COVID was actually active TB. The good news has been that TB was spreading less because regular mask-wearing prevents a lot of TB transmission, but as things start to open back up and people start to gather without masks more often, TB is coming back. 


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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.