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Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines for Employees

 


Answers to your frequently asked questions about distribution, logistics, safety and more. We will update these FAQs regularly as we learn more information.


 

Has UW Medicine developed a priority list for employees to receive vaccinations?

UW Medicine is following the Washington State Department of Health’s tiered approach for distribution of vaccine to healthcare workers and the public, including our patients.

To determine your assigned vaccination priority group, we encourage you to use the Department of Health’s online tool, Phase Finder.

How will employees be notified when they can receive the vaccine?

We have vaccinated a majority of our front-line employees and are now following state guidelines for vaccinating employees who are not involved in direct patient care who meet state guidelines under Phase 1B, which currently includes employees 65 years and older and those 50 and older who live in multi-generational households. Remaining employees should follow state guidelines. Employees should use our employee vaccination site to make an appointment when they are eligible for the vaccine.

If you qualify under Phase 1B, we will keep you updated on when scheduling opens for each grouping within this phase. Timing is dependent upon the supply of vaccine and ongoing guidance from the Department of Health. For more information on the DOH vaccination plans, visit CovidVaccineWA.org.

Are UW Medicine patients eligible to receive the vaccine at this time?

Yes.  We have begun scheduling the COVID-19 vaccine for patients who qualify for the first group of 1B. An appointment is required to receive the vaccine. We are not taking names for a waiting list and will not be accepting walk-ins at any UW Medicine vaccination site, hospital or clinic.

For more information on the DOH vaccination plan, see CovidVaccineWA.org. Additionally, updated information on UW Medicine’s vaccine rollout can be found on our COVID-19 website.

I may have missed the invitation to schedule my vaccination. How do I confirm my eligibility and access registration?

In the unlikely case you were missed and did not receive an email invitation to schedule a vaccination, please speak with your manager to verify your eligibility, status and to receive the scheduling link.

Are employees required to be vaccinated?

No, but all members of UW Medicine teams are strongly encouraged to get the vaccine. This will allow healthcare workers to continue safely caring for patients during the COVID-19 infection surge. The more members of the UW Medicine community who are vaccinated, the safer it will be for our patients, staff and families, faculty, trainees and students.

Please note: When staff receive an email alerting them to their vaccination opportunity, it is mandatory that they respond to schedule or decline.

While declination is an option, our goal is 100% compliance with this COVID-19 prevention campaign as it is with the influenza prevention program. Staff may choose to schedule, postpone or decline, but it is a requirement to respond and select an option. Opting to decline or postpone will not prevent you from scheduling at a future time. If you have specific questions related to your personal health and if you should receive the vaccine, please talk with your healthcare provider.

Is there a cost for UW Medicine employees to get the vaccine?

No, vaccines are free to all UW Medicine employees. It is best to schedule your vaccine through the employee portal.

If an employee is vaccinated through another source (private pharmacy such as Walgreen’s or through their provider) there may be a cost. UW Medicine employees who are also UW Medicine patients may also see a fee if they schedule through eCare with a clinic.

How will people be sure to get their second dose? Is timing essential?

Please mark your calendar with your appointment time once you are scheduled. We will send reminders electronically and work with managers for those employees who do not regularly use computers. The timeline for the second dosing is a minimum interval, and we will schedule follow-up doses when you receive your first dose to align with the second-dosing recommendations. It is important that everyone receive their second dose.

UW Medicine is scheduling second doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine at a minimum 24 days after the first dose.

Should I go back to the same location where I received my first vaccine dose to get my second shot?

Yes, doses 1 and 2 are given at the same location.

What vaccines are available at each of the vaccination sites?

UW Medicine is receiving both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine at all vaccination sites. Which vaccine we use depends on the state’s allocation to UW Medicine. Please be assured that the second dose of your vaccine will be the same as the first dose.

Will I be able to choose which vaccine I get?

No, you will not be able to choose the vaccine. There is minimal clinical significance between the efficacy and safety profiles of the Moderna and  Pfizer vaccines. In ongoing clinical trials, Pfizer’s vaccine was shown to be 95% effective at preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19, while Moderna’s vaccine was 94.1% effective. Both vaccines showed similar side effects in clinical trials. Read more about the comparison between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Can staff mix the doses and get one type of vaccine first followed by the other type of vaccine?

No, you must receive your second dose from the same manufacturer.

The vaccination scheduling system is programmed to provide options for a second appointment based on the minimum interval of the vaccines. You will be given the same vaccine for your second dose.

Our scheduling team and our vaccine administrators are aware of the required timing between doses for each type and are equipped to facilitate accordingly.

There may be unforeseen circumstances in which you may receive the second dose from the other two-dose vaccine. If you do, it will not be harmful, and you should not receive a third dose of either vaccine.

What are the side effects of the vaccines?

Side effects can include pain at the site of injection, headache, fever, fatigue, chills, muscle and joint pain, among other non-serious effects. Some people receiving the Moderna vaccine are reporting delayed allergic reactions at the injection site, occurring approximately 5-7 days after receiving the vaccine. These include redness, rash, swelling or other localized symptoms. Regardless of which vaccine you are receiving, please let your provider know if you suffer from severe allergic reactions and consider scheduling a day off after your vaccination in case you are feeling unwell.

Should I receive the vaccine if I’m in a medically high-risk group?

Many people in a high-risk group with co-morbidities are likely to benefit from the vaccine and are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. If you have questions, you should contact your primary care provider to determine the best course of action.

If I tested positive for COVID-19, do I still need to get the vaccine?

Yes, you should still get a vaccine. However, if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, you may defer your vaccine to allow vaccination of other people  who remain susceptible to infection. Current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon during the 90 days after initial infection.

What if I have an adverse reaction to the vaccine?

If you have an adverse reaction, such as swelling of the face, mouth, or difficulty swallowing or breathing, you should call 911 immediately.

You may also register with v-safe, a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from the CDC may call to check on you. V-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose. Sign up with your smartphone’s browser at vsafe.cdc.gov.

Once I am vaccinated, what should I do if I am not feeling well?

Following your vaccination, it will be important to determine if you are having an expected normal reaction to the vaccine, or if you are experiencing symptoms that may be concerning for an active COVID-19 infection. If you are concerned about an exposure or think you might have COVID-19, you should not return to work. If you need help identifying which symptoms are expected, as well as which symptoms warrant referral to testing or additional care, contact the UW Medicine Employee Vaccination Call Center: 206.520.8788.

What can I expect once I schedule my appointment?

It  is critical that we have a sufficient workforce to provide care and serve our community. Please coordinate timing with your manager when scheduling an appointment. We recommend scheduling your vaccination appointments prior to scheduled days off, in case you are not feeling well after receiving the vaccine.

Vaccination sites will be available at the UW Medical Center – Montlake and Northwest campuses and Harborview Medical Center (note: Valley Medical Center is also a vaccination site, and employees there will be notified separately).

You will be scheduled in a 30-minute window  to receive your vaccination. Because we are still physical distancing, it is important that you arrive for your vaccine as close to the time of your appointment as possible. You should bring your employee badge, and you will be asked to verify the information you had previously filled out online. After you receive your vaccination, you will be asked to remain at the vaccination station for a 15-minute observation period before leaving. We will provide you with a FAQ and information on side effects.

What if I forget my appointment details and need to confirm?

To double-check appointment times and location, please refer to the confirmation email you received when you initially scheduled your appointment. You will receive additional confirmation emails 24 hours prior and 1 hour prior to your appointment time. You may also text “REVIEW” to 206.520.8788 to receive a text message with details of your appointment.

Will the fact that I received a vaccine go into my medical records?

No. Employee Health will document that you received a vaccination just as they do with flu vaccines. If you wish to share this information with your healthcare provider, you should do that. We will provide you with proof-of-vaccination documentation. Please bring the vaccination card to your second appointment.

What if I decline to take the vaccine and then change my mind?

If you decline a vaccine and then at a later date decide you would like it, you will be able to schedule. Please go back to the same scheduling link and sign up.

What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding? Can I still get the vaccine?

Yes, pregnant and breastfeeding women can get the vaccine. What we know is this:

  • None of the clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine included pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • The risk of maternal or fetal harm from an mRNA vaccine is unknown but thought to be low.
  • COVID-19 disease carries increased risk in pregnancy, particularly for patients with obesity or other medical conditions.

The UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology aligns with the guidance regarding COVID vaccine provided by the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which both  advocate for vaccines being offered to pregnant and breastfeeding patients.

Please ask your prenatal care provider if you have additional questions not covered by these summaries.

If I am at high-risk for COVID-19, will my family be prioritized to receive the vaccine when I do?

No, your family members will receive their vaccine when they are eligible under the Washington state guidelines.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. This is not a live vaccine and you cannot get COVID-19. Some of the vaccine side effects are very similar to symptoms of COVID-19, but they should be mild and short in duration.

Once I am vaccinated, do I still need to mask and physical distance?

Yes, vaccinated individuals will need to continue to follow our infection prevention practices, including masking and physical distancing. It is important for all of us to continue to practice these measures when at work and out in the community until we learn more about the impact of vaccination on the transmission of COVID-19 and have a large enough portion of our community that is vaccinated.

Will the vaccinators in the vaccine clinic be vaccinated?

Volunteers who administer the vaccinations will have access to vaccine. However, these will not be pre-scheduled appointments, but coordinated at clinic close to utilize any remaining vaccines that have already been prepped as quantities allow.

If I have received another vaccination (such as the flu shot) recently, may I still get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC recommends spacing the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine 14 days apart from other vaccines. This is precautionary as we do not have information about how other vaccines may affect the immune response.

In addition, please do not get another vaccine for at least 14 days after the second dose of COVID vaccine.

How do UW Medicine hospitals and clinics receive the vaccine on an ongoing basis?

Each week, UW Medicine hospitals submit requests to the Department of Health for vaccine allocations for the following week. Based on supply the state receives from the CDC, DOH then distributes vaccine dosages to sites across Washington state. Currently, UW Medicine does not receive a consistent number of dosages on a weekly basis.

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