EMPLOYEE COVID-19 VACCINE PROGRAM
Importance of Employee COVID-19 Vaccine Program:
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How Does The COVID-19 Vaccine Work?
Although dozens of potential COVID-19 vaccines are proceeding through clinical trials, few are approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization. All the vaccines work by triggering an immune response to the antigen of the SARS-CoV-2 virus inside the body.
These vaccines work as follows:
- A small fragment of the messenger RNA (mRNA) mRNA vaccine gives the body a signal to synthesize an essential protein of SARS-CoV-2.
- These antibodies help our body to build immunity to the virus.
- All mRNA-based vaccines give the body immunity without injecting any viral particles.
Other approved vaccines use weakened, live viruses to trigger a positive immune response inside the body. Viral vector vaccines use a weakened, live virus to trigger an immune response.
It takes about two weeks for the body to produce the antibody cells against COVID-19.
Implementing a Workplace COVID-19 Vaccination Program:
Employers looking forward to implementing a workplace COVID-19 vaccination program should start by contacting the health department in their jurisdiction for guidance. The process of a workplace COVID-19 vaccination program includes planning, implementing, vaccine administration, and employee support. Regardless of whether you elect to implement onsite vaccines, employers may consider hosting a workplace COVID-19 education program based on management, human resources, employees, and labor representatives’ input.
Other necessary preliminary steps include obtaining senior management authorization and support, identifying and hiring a vaccine coordinator, and recruiting expertise from local public health authorities, occupational health service providers, and pharmacies.
An effective workplace COVID-19 vaccination program is beneficial for both employers and employees.
- Keep the workforce healthy by preventing employees from getting COVID-19
- Reduce absences due to illness
- Reduce time missed from work to get vaccinated
- Improve productivity
- Improve employee morale
- Prevent COVID-19 illness
- Reduce absences and doctor visits due to illness
- Offers convenience
- Improve morale
Assisting Employees with COVID-19 Vaccination:
If employers can’t offer onsite COVID-19 vaccinations due to the unavailability of resources or due to state or jurisdiction restrictions, encourage your employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations in their community. To further help them, provide information about vaccination locations and the process to get the vaccine.
Legal Requirements – Can Employers Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines?
While employers may mandate a COVID-19 vaccination for their employees, they must accommodate religious and disability-based exemptions. Since COVID-19 vaccines are approved for emergency use only, mandating the vaccine at this stage could expose employers to unnecessary liability. Considering these legal challenges, many employers have opted for voluntary vaccination programs at the workplace.
Employee Vaccine Exemptions:
An employer may mandate COVID-19 vaccination based on state or other applicable laws. However, the employer cannot mandate employee vaccination under two circumstances. The two exemptions of employee vaccines are:
- Medical conditions: Employees at risk of an adverse allergic reaction are exempted from taking the vaccination.
- Religious beliefs exemptions: Employees may decline the vaccination because of religious beliefs.
Employers offering workplace vaccinations to workers should consider these exemptions before implementing a mandate.
Working on a vacation schedule for employees is more critical for the second dose, where reported side effects are more frequent. Employers may consider staggering vaccination schedules for employees in the same job category to help business operations run smoothly. Even for onsite vaccination options, employers may consider same-day scheduling either department-wide or facility-wide, based on their business demands. Employers may work closely with respective departments and evaluate their specific situation when determining their best COVID-19 vaccine scheduling approach.
Though information specific to common symptoms and side effects is limited, most employees will not require work absence. For more information, read this CDC guidance.
What Should You Consider After Taking the Vaccine?
Here is what you can advise your employees to do after taking the vaccine.
- Stay home if you feel feverish after taking the vaccine
- Consider COVID-19 testing if the symptoms persist
- Mild discomfort after vaccination at the injection site is normal, but such symptoms should go away after a day or two
- For severe symptoms, contact your primary care physician.
These symptoms may include:
- Redness or tenderness at the injection site and pain which could increase after 24-hours
- High fever and allergic reactions
- Persistent symptoms even after a few days
What do you need to know about vaccine rollout?
Companies with FDA approval to supply COVID-19 vaccines must follow strict guidelines outlined by the state and local governments and the CDC. To help with vaccine distribution, the federal, state, and CDC currently recommend the following hierarchy:
Phase 1a: Administering vaccine to healthcare personnel and long-term facility care residents.
Phase 1b: Frontline essential workers and people aged ≥75 years.
Phase 1c: Everyone aged 65–74 years and persons aged 16–64 years with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers not recommended for vaccination in Phase 1b.
Phase 2: All persons aged ≥16 years, not previously recommended for vaccination.
Employee COVID-19 vaccine programs can be beneficial for both employers and employees.
Axiom Medical’s workplace vaccination programs now offer onsite COVID-19 vaccines.
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