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Coronavirus Information for Faculty & Staff

COVID-19 Vaccine Employee Q&A

Published Dec. 18, 2020, follow up to COVID-19 Forum on Dec. 16

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First Vaccination1. Q. When will non-patient facing employees of National Jewish Health be able to get the vaccine?
A. We are following guidelines set by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE), which currently have us providing the vaccine to staff with direct patient interaction. Phase 2, which will likely start in late winter/early spring, should include the rest of our staff under the “essential worker” category.

2. Q. Once the vaccine is offered to us, is it mandatory?
A. We strongly encourage everyone to get the vaccine when it is your turn, but we are not requiring it, and it remains voluntary.

3. Q. What should we do if we think we should have been in the first group but did not receive a survey?
A. You should talk with your manager. Remember, we are following guidelines set by CDPHE that call for us to vaccinate patient-facing staff first. 

4. Q. When are we getting more doses?
A. We do not know the exact timing, but we anticipate that we will have another delivery at the end of December, and definitely in early January to fulfill the second dose requirements for those who were vaccinated in this initial round. We hope also to receive additional doses for other staff in the new year.

That said, please recognize that until CDPHE announces that we may move on to vaccinating Phase 2 individuals, any additional doses we receive are allocated by the State for non-NJH health care workers and staff with direct patient care who will be receiving their vaccinations at National Jewish Health.

5. Q. If you declined the vaccine initially, will you have another opportunity to get it at a later date?
A. Yes, you can talk with your manager to get back onto the list, but it will be dependent on availability of vaccine. Again, we strongly recommend everyone get the vaccine when it is offered, as there are no guarantees as to when we will receive additional shipments.

6. Q. At what point after immunization does a recipient mount a sufficient immune response to be considered protected?
A. Based on the currently available data, it appears that most recipients mount a protective immune response around two to three weeks AFTER the SECOND dose. The challenge we have is that COVID-19 is a new illness, and we are learning along the way.

7. Q. What side effects are being seen with the vaccine?
A. Some people may experience minor side effects after receiving the vaccine, similar to those that can accompany the flu vaccine. Some of the more common side effects are soreness around the injection site, fatigue, headache and muscle pain.

We do know that there were two cases of severe reaction in the U.K. when the vaccines were rolled out in that country two weeks ago.  However, both people had a history of severe (anaphylaxis) in prior situations. We are asking people who are concerned to talk with their physician first.

8. Q. Will we be getting the Moderna vaccine once it is approved?
A. At this point, we are not scheduled to receive the Moderna vaccine. The State is sending the Pfizer vaccine to places that have the appropriate ultra-cold storage, which we do. The Moderna vaccine is easier to store, and we believe the State is sending more of that version to rural and small community hospitals, or systems with hospitals in those communities. Still, allocation decisions remain fluid, and we could receive Moderna vaccine if CDPHE deems it desirable to have National Jewish Health as a Moderna administration site.

9. Q. What are we telling patients right now if they ask about getting the vaccine?
A. Right now we are letting them know that we are following the CDPHE guidelines and vaccinating our health care workers so that we will be healthy to care for them. Once we are allowed to move on to patients, we will let them know how to obtain vaccination on our website, through social media and other communication channels.

10. Q. Will National Jewish Health be vaccinating the general public?
A. We have let CDPHE know that we are willing and able to be a location for general public vaccination when the time comes. At this point we do not know if we will be asked to do this service or when that might take place. In the meantime, we are working through logistics and plans for how we might be able to do this if asked.

11. Q: I had a known exposure in the last 14 days with a COVID-19 case, can I get the vaccine to stop me from developing the disease? 
A: No. current evidence suggests that the vaccine cannot be used for post-exposure prophylaxis as protection from the vaccine is not immediate, requires 2 doses, and may take 1 to 2 weeks from second dose to acquired immunity. 

If you have had a known exposure to COVID-19 you should not seek vaccination until the quarantine period has ended to avoid potentially exposing healthcare personnel and other during the vaccine visit and to make sure you are not sick with COVID-19 at the time of vaccination.

12. Q: I recently received passive antibody therapy for COVID-19, can I still get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine? 
A: Yes, BUT vaccination should be deferred for at least 90 days for individuals who had received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment.

13. I recently got vaccinated and have symptoms, should I come to work? 
A: It depends. Employees with systemic signs (fever, headache, fatigue, chills, body aches, joint or muscle pain) following COVID-19 vaccinations may continue to work if well enough. However, contact employee health if symptoms persist and are not resolved within 24 hours.

Employees with respiratory symptoms (shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, cough) should follow NJH policies:

  • Stay home
  • Call Lynne at 303 398 1412 to report symptoms and arrange for testing
  • Contact your direct supervisor