8 Things You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

The Road to Immunity: A Vaccine Update 8 things you need to know

Associated Industries of Massachusetts convened three experts (Click Here) Tuesday to discuss the medical, legal and political implications of the COVID-19 vaccine. The discussion, moderated by AIM Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Brooke Thomson, included Dr. Michael Collins, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School; Kevin Cranston, Assistant Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health; and Maura McLaughlin, Employment Law Partner, Morgan, Brown & Joy.   Here are 8 key points from the discussion.

The science behind the vaccines is extraordinary

  • Medical profession has been working on this ‘type’ of virus for years
  • Speed of approval has not impacted safety or effectiveness of the vaccines

The best vaccine for you is the one you’re able to get

  • 154 potential vaccines are being tested worldwide
  • 21 are in Phase 1 safety testing
  • 10 are in Phase 3 testing

It will take some time for the country to achieve herd immunity and economic stability

  • Won’t happen until 250 million people are vaccinated or have had the disease
  • Between 70-80 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated
  • Until we achieve herd immunity, rapid testing is critical to keeping businesses and the economy going
  • Even with a vaccine, it will take time to get the economy back to pre-crisis levels

The Commonwealth has prioritized distribution of the vaccine based on three core principles

  • Preventing serious illness, complications and deaths associated with the virus
  • Preserving the health-care infrastructure, including clinicians and institutions, so they are able to meet the needs of the public
  • Achieving health equity in communities that are disproportionately impacted by the virus (particularly communities of color)

Massachusetts will distribute vaccines in three phases

  • Phase 1 (Now -Feb 2021)   Clinicians/non-clinicians, health environments, food services where people are receiving care. Long-term care facilities. First responders. Congregate facility workers. Home-based health care workers.
  • Phase 2 (Feb 2021- April 2021)- Individuals with two or more co-morbidities. Industries and critical work areas: education, transit, grocery, utilities, food and agriculture, sanitation, public health. Adults 65 years of age and older. People with one co-morbidity.
  • Phase 3 (April 2021 – June 2021) – Remainder of the commonwealth, which is approximately 50 percent of the population

Employers should be prepared to respond to employees who decline the vaccine and ask for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

  • Need to be prepared to engage in a dialog to determine reasonability of request

We are unlikely to return to “normal” before 2022

  • Need to continue current practices of self-certification at work, social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing.
  • Until we achieve herd immunity, rapid testing is critical to keeping businesses and the economy going
  • Even with a vaccine, it will take time to get the economy back to pre-crisis levels

Employers should be prepared to employ best practices

  • Be prepared with information
  • Continue to communicate, train and reinforce other steps employers and employees can take to protect each other, customers, and the communities such as continued screening, fitness for duty programs, and contract tracing.
  • Be prepared to respond to employees who ask for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or religious exemptions
  • Be prepared to engage in an interactive dialog with employees keeping in mind state and federal guidance or court rulings.

Click here to access AIM COVID-19 resources

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