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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Tuesday, June 1st

New EEOC guidance on vaccine incentives, Moderna seeks full approval and can recovered COVID+ people be unmasked?

EEOC Update

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s latest guidelines say that, in most cases, employers can require their workforce to get the COVID vaccine and ask for proof of vaccination. If you need help with this, check out our employee vaccine tracking option. (The Herald Sun)
  • See the actual text of the new EEOC guidance here (EEOC).

  • And read here about how employers are providing vaccine incentives thanks to these new guidelines. (Fisher Phillips)

Today's Recap

  • Moderna is the second US drugmaker to ask the FDA for full approval of its COVID vaccine. The approval process will likely take months but, if they’re successful, it could be a factor in increasing vaccination rates -- nearly 32% of unvaccinated adults say they’d be more likely to get it if it was fully authorized. (CNBC, KFF)
  • As effective as the current COVID vaccines are, scientists are still trying to make them better. The next round of shots may be easier to distribute, less expensive, have fewer side effects and even protect you from other illnesses. (USA Today)
  • A group of experts has come up with a new naming system for the so-called “variants of concern”. Instead of their technical letter-number codes or using the name of the country where they originated, the new system uses letters from the Greek alphabet. (Reuters)
  • Some employees have embraced working from home so well that they’re quitting their jobs when working remotely isn’t an option anymore. (Bloomberg)
  • Fifteen of the top Fortune 500 Companies polled in a recent survey say they’re encouraging employee vaccination through extra PTO, on-site vaccinations, other financial incentives and strong pro-vaccine messaging from corporate leadership, but have no plans to mandate them. (KHN)
  • 7.1 million people passed through TSA security from Thursday to Sunday for the holiday weekend, and 37 million were expected to travel more than 50 miles from home. (Reuters)
  • Industry reps and lobbyists for restaurants, telehealth providers and medical marijuana are making the case to keep COVID-era conveniences like marijuana deliveries and cocktails-to-go might permanently. (Politico)

Best Questions

If an employee is fully vaccinated and then has household exposure to a COVID+ person (like their child), do they need to be excluded?

Great news - the answer is no! If someone is fully vaccinated, they don’t need to be excluded even if someone in their household is confirmed COVID+. As long as the employee doesn’t have any symptoms of their own, they are cleared to work even if their partner, child, or roommate - or anyone else for that matter - gets sick with COVID. 

Can allergies cause a fever?

No! It’s a common misconception, but allergies don’t cause fever and they rarely cause shortness of breath except possibly in those with asthma. You may have heard of “hay fever” as a common phrase for allergies, but that’s just an old-timey way of saying allergies, and doesn’t actually cause any fever. 

If someone was in a clinical trial for a vaccine, are they still fully vaccinated two weeks after the final dose?  

Unfortunately, not necessarily. We are thrilled to see so many of your employees participating in clinical trials (yay, science!), but there are some things to consider before we count someone as fully vaccinated. First, if someone is still enrolled in a clinical trial, they don’t know yet whether they had the real vaccine or a placebo (usually saline), and those results aren’t generally released until the trial is over. Second, if a drug is still in an ongoing clinical trial, it may not actually be authorized yet for Emergency Use by the FDA. 

For those who were in clinical trials where they received the real vaccine either during or after their participation, and that vaccine was then approved for emergency use in their age-group by the FDA (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J), then we would consider them fully vaccinated. 

For anyone else who participated in a trial for a vaccine that isn’t authorized at this time (like Novavax or AstraZeneca) or that isn’t approved for their age group (for example, they were in a trial for J&J in kids aged 12-18), we unfortunately recommend treating them as if they are unvaccinated. The same thing goes for those that are currently participating in a trial. We just can’t be sure until the research is finished, it’s confirmed that they got the real thing, and that vaccine is approved for their age group in the U.S. 

If someone had COVID within the last 90 days and is not yet vaccinated, do they still need to mask indoors?

This is a tough one and we’re still waiting for the CDC to weigh in on this. There is a growing body of evidence that it’s very hard for someone who had COVID in the past 90 days to spread it to anyone else - in fact, a new study shows that time period may be much longer than 90 days, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the CDC were to extend that window at some point after a few more studies are concluded. So it makes sense that someone who recently recovered from COVID could be unmasked without posing a serious risk to those around them (as long as they meet the criteria for going back to work, of course). But right now, the CDC guidance around wearing a mask is only separated into those who are unvaccinated and those who are vaccinated - with no guidance for those who have “natural” immunity due to recent infection. 

We’ve posed this question to the CDC to try to get an on-the-record answer but haven’t heard back yet, but it’s a hot topic in the medical community right now. We’ll continue to keep you updated, but until we get clear CDC guidance, it’s likely a decision for you and your team to make with the help of your legal counsel. 

Best Read

7 Options for Managing a Partially Vaccinated Workforce

Best Laugh

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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.