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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 guidelines for distribution of vaccines to healthcare workers and the public, including our patients.

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 to vaccinate remaining employees who meet DOH eligibility criteria. Employees should use our employee vaccination site to make an appointment when they are eligible for the vaccine.

Eligible employees can schedule online using:

EMPLOYEE VACCINATION SITE

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

Yes. Eligible UW Medicine patients and community members can make a vaccination appointment with UW Medicine. An appointment is required to receive the vaccine. We will not be accepting walk-ins at any UW Medicine vaccination site.

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

Eligibility can be found on the DOH website. Eligible employees can schedule online using:

EMPLOYEE VACCINATION SITE

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.

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 whether or not 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 Walgreens or through their provider) there may be a cost.

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

If you are vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna, a second dose will be needed to be fully vaccinated. It is important that everyone receive their second dose. 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:

  • Pfizer – 21 days with a four-day grace period
  • Moderna – 28 days with a four-day grace period

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

Yes, doses one and two 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 vaccines 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 from the same manufacturer as the first dose. UW Medicine has also received some Johnson & Johnson vaccines for pop-up clinics and inpatient vaccination. The other vaccine clinics may start to offer this as supply increases.

Will I be able to choose which vaccine I get?

No, you will not be able to choose which vaccine you receive. We are dependent on supply at the federal and state levels. Different vaccine sites within our area will likely be offering different vaccines. We encourage everyone to take the vaccine that is available to them as soon as possible when they are eligible under state guidelines.

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 and 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 comorbidities 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 or 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 an 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 an appointment. 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 people can get the vaccine and have been specifically prioritized in Phase 1B tier 2 of the Washington DOH vaccine distribution plan. What we know is this:

  • None of the clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine included pregnant or breastfeeding patients.
  • 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 & Gynecology aligns with the guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccines provided by the Society for 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 Washington state guidelines.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. This is not a live vaccine and you cannot get COVID-19 from it. 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 the vaccine. However, these will not be pre-scheduled appointments, but instead 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 the COVID-19 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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