Am I Eligible as a School or Childcare Employee?
On March 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a Secretarial Directive ordering COVID-19 vaccine providers to make eligible and administer vaccines to “workers at pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools, Head Start and Early Head Start programs, including teachers, staff, and bus drivers and those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers.” Nationwide, this eligibility is effective immediately. Maine has aligned its vaccination plan with this new requirement.
Why Should I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
The purpose of the COVID-19 vaccination is to keep you from getting COVID-19 and reduce serious illness and hospitalization. All approved COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. The three current COVID-19 vaccines that have Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) have been carefully evaluated in clinical trials and deemed effective at reducing the serious outcomes of getting Covid-19. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Getting vaccinated reduces your risk of contracting COVID-19 if exposed. An individual who has completed a COVID-19 vaccination series and is exposed to a COVID-19 case does not need to quarantine, so long as the exposure is more than 14 days after the individual’s completion of the COVID-19 vaccine series.
COVID-19 vaccination is a safer way to help build protection
COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how a diagnosis of COVID-19 will affect you. If you do get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you. Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, or immunity. Current evidence suggests that re-infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Experts don’t know for sure how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness. Both natural immunity and immunity produced by a vaccine are important parts of COVID-19 disease that experts are continuing to learn more about.
COVID-19 vaccination is a crucial tool to help stop the pandemic. While wearing masks and social distancing help reduce the chances of contracting COVID-19, these measures are not enough. Vaccines work with your immune system to prepare it to fight the virus if exposed. The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available.
The following considerations are to minimize impacts of possible post-vaccination reactions in Maine Schools. Some of these have already been considered in the planning of school staff opportunities for vaccination.
• Schedule vaccine preceding 1-2 days off in the event of mild side effects.
• Read all vaccine information provided by clinic before the appointment and get questions answered ahead of time.
• Bring insurance information and school ID to your appointment. The vaccine is free, but the clinic may charge insurance companies for a small administration fee.
• Stagger delivery/participation of vaccines so that not all staff in a building are vaccinated at the same time.
• Be aware of potential short-term symptoms after vaccination as well as options for mitigating them if symptoms arise (e.g., use of ibuprofen or acetaminophen for localized pain).
• Develop a strategy to encourage timely assessment of staff with systemic signs and symptoms post-vaccination. This should include providing options for testing.
Should I Go to Work if I have Side Effects?
Any of these symptoms are unlikely to be from vaccine.
Staff should NOT report to work pending evaluation for possible causes, including Covid-19 infection, as appropriate.
Criteria for return to work depends on the suspected or confirmed diagnosis.
Any of these symptoms may be from vaccine. These have been reported in VAERS.
May go to work if:
1) Feel well enough AND
2) Are afebrile and symptoms are limited only to those observed following COVID-19 vaccination (i.e., do not have other signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or change in smell or taste).
If symptoms are not improving or persist for more than 2 days, they should call their healthcare provider. Pending further evaluation, they should be excluded from work and viral testing should be considered. If an infectious etiology is not suspected or confirmed as the source of their fever, they may return to work when they feel well enough.
- How Viral Vector Vaccines work
- How mRNA Vaccines Work
- U.S. CDC Social Media Toolkit: COVID-19 Vaccinations
- Benefits of Getting Covid-19 Vaccine
- Be Safe After You Vaccinate
- What to Expect after Getting a Vaccine
- Pfizer Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet
- Moderna Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet
- Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet
- Video Resources
Webinar: “COVID-19 Vaccine: Helping to Educate”: Covid 19 Vaccine: Helping to Educate Maine