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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Tuesday, April 27th

New CDC guidelines, vaccine freebies and can fully vaccinated employees stop wearing masks?

ZHH Updates

Please join us for our next webinar: Relaxing COVID Restrictions!

How are businesses navigating risk as restrictions are being lifted and the pressure to get back to “normal” is increasing? Our panel of industry experts will discuss just that, and take a deep dive into when it will be safe for you to stop the theatrical cleaning, take the masks off and open at full capacity.

When: Wed., May 5 at 3 p.m. ET

Register Here

CDC Mask Update

  • The CDC has said that fully vaccinated people can now be unmasked when exercising, socializing and dining outdoors in small groups. Even fully vaccinated people should still wear masks when attending crowded outdoor events.  Masks are still recommended for everyone indoors in public. Here’s the breakdown of outdoor mask use:
The CDC released updated guidance on outdoor mask usage.

Today's Recap

  • Millions of Americans, roughly 8% of those who received their first dose, have skipped their second doses for a variety of reasons, including fears of side effects, lack of supply and feeling sufficiently protected after their first shot. (New York Times)
  • Researchers have found that permanent and part-time shift workers were more than twice as likely to have had a COVID+ test than colleagues with non-shift work hours. The data was largely unchanged even when accounting for BMI, smoking and other known risk factors. One theory is that shift work could alter the body’s circadian rhythms and, as a result, their immune response, too. (BMJ Journals
  • The CDC is recommending that pregnant women get a COVID vaccine after data shows it’s safe for mother and baby. (CNBC)
  • A man in Mallorca was arrested for infecting 22 others with COVID. He went to work and the gym while sick, actively removed his mask while coughing, and taunted that he’d infect his coworkers. (The Guardian)
  • Fully vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe again by summer. (Reuters)
  • Despite the fact that the U.S. has resumed use of the J&J vaccine, less than 25% say they’d get it. (Washington Post)
  • This comes as the CDC is investigating two new cases of blood clots - one in a male, one in a female, both under 60 - after they received the J&J vaccine. There are now 17 total confirmed cases out of 8 million shots administered. (Reuters)
  • The U.S. has pledged to send PPE, rapid testing kits, extra vaccines and other assistance to India as they face sharply rising COVID cases. And we’ll send millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries once it clears FDA safety reviews. The U.S. has enough doses of other COVID vaccine brands. (The White House, NPR)
  • The CDC is investigating a Salmonella outbreak linked to brie cheese after five people reported feeling ill. Two were hospitalized. (CDC)
  • New data shows a 41-53% drop in teen and adult immunizations from 2019 (pre-COVID) to 2020 for standard non-COVID vaccines like flu, Hepatitis, chicken pox, etc..  The drop is across all vaccine types and all age/ risk groups. This is alarming and only underscores the importance of how employers are communicating about vaccines and making them available to employees. (STAT)
  • West Virginia is offering a $100 savings bond to anyone 16-35 who gets (or has already gotten) a COVID vaccine. The state has the 16th highest rate of new COVID cases in the U.S. and they hope this incentive will motivate young people to continue getting the shot. (BBC)
  • Donuts, dessert-on-a-stick, hot dogs and more: the freebies for being vaccinated aren’t exactly healthy but they can be a good incentive. (CNN)

Best Questions

The CDC said fully vaccinated people don’t require masks outdoors. Does this mean our employees can be unmasked outdoors? 

Fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks outdoors, unless they’re at crowded events, like outdoor concerts or sports games. But we still don’t recommend that your staff remove their masks when working outside. Working for hours in a crowded public place - where you have no way of telling which customers are vaccinated and which aren’t - is much riskier for your employees than for a guest who will be there for a shorter time and is mostly in close contact with people they know. And while the risk of transmission is lower outside, your employees will almost certainly be going inside regularly throughout their shift where the risk is much higher. Plus, there are lots of liability and OSHA questions here for your legal team to discuss, too. Long story short, nearly all of our clients are continuing to require masks for employees, outdoors or in.

Lots of people aren’t going back for their second dose. What can we do to encourage them? 

It’s a concerning trend as nearly 5 million Americans who got Dose 1 didn’t return for Dose 2. The reasons are varied: some are concerned about side effects, others feel like the 80% protection they’ve heard about is enough, and sometimes it’s out of their hands - clinics and pharmacies have rescheduled or cancelled second doses due to shortages or logistical issues like only having the other brand of vaccine available. Here are some strategies you can use to encourage folks to go back for that second shot:

  • Focus on the why. 
  • It’s very important to get the second dose because just one dose can leave you more vulnerable to variants and may not last as long. 
  • Help remove hurdles. 
  • Support those with scheduling issues and college students leaving campus at the end of the year. Managers or vaccine taskforce members can offer to call clinics or navigate websites to help employees get their second dose appointment. 
  • Offer good resources.
  • Trustworthy resources are key. If you haven’t already checked it out, our Vaccine Chat Line connects your employees with real clinical pros (in multiple languages) to answer their questions via text message.  

Are there specific ways to effectively reach our Hispanic/Latinx employees or help them get vaccinated?

Hispanic and Latinx employees have been slower in getting vaccinated for very good reasons that differ from some other employees. Besides the fact that Hispanic and Latinx communities have significantly less access to vaccines than others, their lived personal experiences may also result in greater mistrust of authorities. Navigating the complicated scheduling systems in a second language can be very difficult, too. Plus those systems require personal information that they may be more hesitant to share, in part because there is a long history in the US of the government using sensitive information to deport undocumented workers. These same concerns may be true for many other employees who are immigrants, from communities historically mistreated by the medical field or government, or don’t speak English fluently. 

Here a few ideas for how to help these employees:

  • Find local drop-in vaccination sites that don’t require appointments.  We’re starting to see them in many states and cities. Check the city’s vaccination website and search “drop-in” or “walk-up,” or call the local health department and ask about drop-in sites.
  • Create your vaccine advocacy materials in multiple languages.
  • Offer one-on-one assistance for scheduling, transportation or to help find answers to questions about vaccination. Especially effective is matching Spanish speakers with other Spanish speakers.

When it comes to getting back to “normal”, how important is it that kids aren’t getting vaccinated yet?

Very. Vaccines in the US aren’t approved for kids under 16, but we know that kids still transmit the virus, even if they don’t get sick as often as adults. Children transmitting the virus could still spell trouble even if most adults get vaccinated, because it means there are hosts for the virus to mutate and opportunities for new variants to emerge. The vaccines we have work very well against the most common variants in the US right now, but we know that they’re less effective against certain new variants. Plus, we’re always going to have a pretty large number of unvaccinated people - those who can’t or won’t get vaccinated - who will also be at risk. Until kids can be vaccinated against COVID, the coronavirus will continue to spread (and mutate) throughout the country.

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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.