Special thanks to Kerry Bridges from Chipotle and Michael Halen from Bloomberg Intelligence for joining Wednesday’s webinar on navigating risk as COVID restrictions continue to ease. In case you missed it, here is a link to the recording as well as the Twitter thread we created in real-time during the discussion.
Since the current COVID vaccines received Emergency Use Authorization in the US, the general rule of thumb has been that you need two doses of the same brand (except in very rare circumstances like severe allergic reaction). Appointments have even been rescheduled when the same brand wasn’t available on the date of their second dose.
But new research suggests that it may not matter if you mix and match between the same type (in the US, that’s only relevant for Pfizer and Moderna, both mRNA vaccines) and that there may even be an immunological benefit, though that’s still being studied. This week, there’s been a similar conversation around upcoming booster doses. That’s all still to be determined since boosters are still in development.
At the end of the day, you should absolutely stick to the same brand of vaccine for both doses and you shouldn’t get two different vaccinations for “more coverage” - both are not yet studied well enough to know the risks. Plus, sticking to one brand lets you irrationally cheer for your own. Most of us here at ZHH and Zedic are #TeamPfizer because we got vaccinated earlier in the rollout, but we have #ModernaGang and those repping #JnJ proudly, too.
We know this is something your teams want badly and there are a few things you’ll need to consider before allowing BOH employees to remove their masks. First, everyone they come in contact with at work will need to be fully vaccinated. While the BOH team might be small and highly motivated to get the vaccine if it means they can be unmasked, the reality is that managers, servers and bussers are likely going into the back regularly throughout their shifts. If the entire restaurant team is fully vaccinated, you might be able to consider ditching masks, but we’re still a long way off from that being a reality in most places. Many of our larger clients are still seeing less than 30% of their staff fully vaccinated.
The realities of removing masks outdoors and putting them back on when going indoors, plus the proper hand washing required, makes the whole process much more complicated. Plus employee and guest sentiment is varied and matters. Many guests aren’t comfortable with their servers being unmasked, even outside. And while some employees are getting the vaccine, most are not yet fully vaccinated and wearing a mask reduces their individual risk of COVID by about 65%. We still recommend wearing masks, even outside, and for now, even for fully vaccinated employees.
The CDC has made clear that the coronavirus is primarily spread through airborne droplets and person-to-person transmission, and the risk of getting COVID from surfaces is low. Reducing the “hygiene theater” is a delicate balance between clinical accuracy and the way it makes guests and employees feel. One client shared they went from hourly sanitizing to once every four hours and once at the end of the day. Others haven’t officially reduced their frequency of sanitizing but are aware that individual locations may be doing it less often than stated in their protocols.
And nearly all of our clients have dropped regular fogging. Save intensive deep cleaning for situations when you know a guest or employee got sick in the 24 hours after they were in the workplace, or if there’s a bump in cases in the local area. But increased attention to high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, faucets and touch screens is still a good idea, and will not only reduce the transmission of COVID but also other illnesses like noro, Hep A and the common cold. We continue to see a major uptick in noro nationally.
Yes, unfortunately. The risk is lower, but it’s definitely not zero and, in fact, we’ve seen multiple cases where someone was exposed before they were fully protected and got sick with COVID just before or even just after day 14 after their final dose of vaccine. If someone was exposed to COVID at any point before they are fully protected (14 days after final dose), they should be excluded for a full 10 days from their most recent exposure, even if some of that time falls after their 14th day when they are fully protected. It’s possible to get exposed on day 10 post-vaccination and then get sick with COVID symptoms on day 14 or 15, for example.