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Experts to Discuss Vaccine Implications for Employers

Posted on December 13, 2020

Dr. Michael Collins, the Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, understands better than most people the importance of getting the new COVID-19 vaccines to residents in an efficient and effective manner.

“Be assured, all pandemics have ended, and this one will, too,” Collins told the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees last week. “What’s most important is that we stay safe and be vaccinated so we can get to the other side of this.”

Chancellor Collins is one of three experts set to discuss the medical, legal and political implications of the COVID-19 vaccine in an extraordinary AIM virtual program tomorrow called The Road to Immunity: A Vaccine Update. The discussion, to be moderated by AIM Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Brooke Thomson, will also include Kevin Cranston, Assistant Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Maura McLaughlin, Employment Law Partner, Morgan, Brown & Joy.

The members-only webinar will explore the state of the science surrounding the current outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States and Massachusetts, with a focus on the road to immunity during COVID-19. Topics will also include the basics of vaccine development, how developing a vaccine for COVID-19 differs from “traditional” vaccine development, and what actions can be taken now and in the coming months to ensure that our supply chain is ready to manufacture millions of doses of a vaccine.

The discussion takes place a week after the Baker Administration Baker Administration announced allocation and distribution plans for the first round of COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Massachusetts. The state’s first shipment of 59,475 doses of the Pfizer vaccine has been ordered from the federal government and will be delivered directly to 21 hospitals across 8 counties, as well as to the Department of Public Health Immunization lab.

Officials and employers alike believe that an effective vaccine is key to the ability of governments to control the spread of COVID-19 and to re-invigorate an economy that continues to struggle in the wake of government-imposed shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. The spring shutdown in Massachusetts reduced economic output by a record 31.6 percent during the second quarter and hundreds of thousands of people were put out of work.

But there are more questions than answers surrounding vaccines. The daily barrage of information about new drugs, their effectiveness, how they need to be stored, and other factors can be confusing. Businesses looking for answers.

“The logistics involved in inoculations world-wide is staggering; and will require immense planning and collaboration between municipalities, states, the federal government, foreign nations and private businesses. Businesses play a pivotal role in development, distribution and administration of the vaccine,” Thomson said.

Cranston, the Assistant Commissioner of Public Health, brings a unique background that includes a Master of Divinity degree that makes him aware of the ways in which pandemics like AIDS and COVID expose social disparities.

“I’m particularly concerned about the disproportionate impact of the closures on the most economically vulnerable,” Cranston said recently in an article for Harvard Divinity School.

“It’s day workers. It’s hourly workers. It’s people in the food and restaurant business. It’s people who cut hair. Their money ended the day they were sent home. And when they lose their health insurance, when they put off doctor’s appointments, when they turn to substances to deal with the stress—those are public health issues too. We have to put as much attention into rebuilding their lives as we put into the response to the pandemic.”

McLaughlin, meanwhile, is an expert on the manifold legal issues facing employers navigating the pandemic. As Congress continues to wrangle over COVID liability protection for employers, the distribution of vaccines will raise new legal issues, especially the ability of employers to require that workers receive the shot before coming to work..

The Road to Immunity: A Vaccine Update will take place tomorrow from 9:30-10:30 am. Click here to register.