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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Tuesday, May 25th

The vax passport debate, protection against new variants and what will a post-COVID wellness check look like?

Today's Recap

  • The CDC is investigating reports of post-vaccination heart problems in a small number of teenagers and young adults. Currently there’s no evidence that the COVID vaccine caused the condition. (New York Times)
  • In a new clinical trial, Pfizer has started giving a COVID booster and pneumonia shot to fully vaccinated adults over 65. Their goal is to determine if the vaccine combo is safe and effective. (Reuters)
  • Daily new COVID cases and deaths are now at their lowest since last June. (CNBC)
  • With the easing of COVID restrictions, the debate over whether to use vaccine passports is heating up. (CBS News)
  • But CT, SC, IA and FL likely won’t be using (or have fully banned) vaccine passports. (CT Post, NPR, KWWL, Tampa Bay Times
  • A new study has found that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines offer effective protection against the COVID variant that originated in India. (Associated Press)
  • Three researchers from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care in November 2019, a month before China reported the first cases of COVID-19. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Swipe right if vaccinated. Dating apps are adding filters for vaccination status! (NPR)
  • Getting a free Krispy Kreme every day after your shot? One guy is and the internet loves him and hates him. (Slate)
  • While the majority of employers are encouraging COVID vaccination, only a very small percentage are mandating them. (Fisher Phillips)

Best Questions

Are you hearing that employees are hesitant to share vaccine info with employers?

Yes, some employees are hesitant to share their vaccination status or their vaccination card with their employers. While realistically, the card only has their name and date of birth on it, which most employers have anyway, there’s a lot of rhetoric about privacy related to vaccination status that’s impacting employees. Using a third party (like the ZHH & Zedic team) to securely collect and store their info is one strategy our clients are using to build trust. Most are encouraging employees to cover their birth date on the card before snapping a picture of it, adding another layer of protection. As more and more events and services - from weddings to baseball games to dating apps - require proof of vaccination, the concept might become more mainstream. Until we collectively work it out, though, there’s definitely still hesitancy and privacy concerns to deal with.

Are there vaccine incentives that are working better than others?

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, the most effective incentives are paid time off for employees to go get vaccinated. Though most companies are just offering PTO, the ones that are offering additional incentives have started to see more success. Bringing vaccination clinics on-site, or providing easy-to-access info about local drop-in vaccination sites are most effective at getting those numbers up. For many, not having to wear a mask at work is all the incentive they need, so advertising that fully vaccinated employees can go maskless is a great idea if that’s your company policy. Lastly, we’re hearing good things about the vaccination lotteries in Ohio. It could be a great thing to imitate at your company, though you’ll want to loop in your legal and benefits teams when you hammer out the details. 

What would a post-COVID daily wellness check look for?

Wellness checks after COVID will look a lot like wellness checks did before COVID: focused on common illnesses easily spread from person to person or through food. In addition to asking about flu-like symptoms, they’ll ask about gastrointestinal symptoms, Hepatitis A symptoms (yellow eyes, dark urine) and other common communicable disease symptoms. Of course, from now on, they’ll also include symptoms that are unique to COVID, like new loss of taste or smell. For most of our clients, post-COVID wellness checks will include nearly all the same symptoms, with some added questions aimed at catching Hep A.

Do we have a clinical reason for sticking with paper menus and single-use condiments or can we ditch those precautions? 

Clinically, there isn’t much reason to continue using single-use condiments and paper menus, though you’ll still need to consider the impact those have on guest and employee comfort. The virus that causes COVID is primarily spread through person-to-person contact and through the air, not via surfaces. While you should still wipe down all menus, touch screens and condiment bottles regularly, you don’t necessarily need to ditch them entirely. 

Do you think the timeframe for immunity after recovering from COVID might be extended beyond the current 90 days?  

There are a number of studies going on right now to better understand the level of antibodies needed to provide protection and how long they last in those who have recovered from COVID. There is a lot of promising evidence that those who are infected with COVID have a strong immune response that lasts up to six months, possibly longer. But the real issue is that natural immunity is much more varied than vaccine-based immunity. Some people have drastically higher antibody levels and T-cell response, others have much lower. No studies have been able to pinpoint exactly what levels prevent infection or transmission, either, so it’s not as cut and dry as we might like it to be. Long story short, the level of protection is too varied in those who were infected with COVID to say for certain that they all have protection for a long time, but as research continues we might expect to see that 90 day window extended.

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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.