Vaccines arriving this week: What to expect

December 16, 2020 Providence News Team

With news of the FDA authorizing emergency use of the first COVID-19 vaccine, we can expect the first doses to arrive at our facilities this week. This means we can begin offering vaccinations to our highest-risk, front-line caregivers.

To plan for the first doses and ensure a smooth and rapid distribution, we have asked all caregivers to complete the Validate and Verify (VAV) tool, which helps prioritize who will receive the vaccine first based on role, work location and self-identified risk. The tool also allows caregivers to provide their best method of contacting them (email versus text). If you have not completed the VAV tool, please do so right away. 

How will I be informed if I am eligible?

The following steps show how caregivers will be informed when they are eligible for the first cohort of vaccinations. If you are not part of this initial phase, you will not receive a follow-up communication until you are eligible and vaccine is available.

1.     RECEIVE TEXT OR EMAIL. You’ll receive follow-up communications via SMS text or email – depending on what you choose as your communication preference when completing the VAV tool. Some caregivers may start to receive communications this week.

2.     CONFIRM YOUR INTENTIONS. The notifications will prompt you to confirm your interest in getting the vaccine. You’ll have the opportunity to accept, decline or defer the vaccine. See message example:

  • Yes, I’d like to schedule my appointment.
  • Maybe. I prefer to wait until a later time. I relinquish my prioritization and understand it is unknown when I may receive another opportunity.
  • No, I decline the vaccination.

3.     MAKE AN APPOINTMENT: After confirming your participation, the SMS text or email will guide you through making an appointment on the Sign Up Genius scheduling tool where you will select a date, time and location for receiving the vaccine. Before you make an appointment, please coordinate with your core leader to ensure patient care coverage.
NOTE: See screening requirements and review what you need to know before you get the vaccine.

Who will have access to the vaccine first?
In line with state and federal requirements, the COVID-19 vaccine will first be made available to certain high-risk health care workers, and patients and residents in long-term care facilities. We are carefully assessing risk within our workforce to equitably distribute initial doses to those at highest risk of exposure, based on role and work location.

A risk level is assigned to caregivers based on role and work location. By filling out the VAV tool, caregivers can self-assess risk. Then, regional vaccine taskforces, called “geos,” identify the highest risk caregivers based on the VAV report and determine who is eligible in the first vaccine cohort based on the number of vaccine doses we receive.

About the vaccine

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the first vaccine candidate that received emergency use authorization from the FDA on Dec. 11. In addition to the FDA authorization and Western Pact approval, our internal workgroup has given us the greenlight to proceed. Early data suggest the Pfizer vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing COVID-19.

The second COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Moderna is scheduled to be first reviewed by an expert advisory council on Dec. 17, which will make a recommendation to the FDA. It’s expected that the FDA will grant Moderna COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization this week or next. Once authorized, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will begin shipping to states for distribution.

Like the Pfizer vaccine, initial data suggest the Moderna vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing COVID-19. In a trial of 30,000 people, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine showed an efficacy rate of 94.1 percent. Side effects are similar to that of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine – fever, headache and fatigue.

We know there are many questions about side effects, safety and efficacy, and that some caregivers may be hesitant about getting immunized. Caregivers are not required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We encourage everyone to get the facts and review the data for yourself. Here are some helpful resources:


Do I need the vaccine if I wear PPE as part of my job?
Caregivers are highly encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine, when available. Like PPE, vaccines are an important line of defense against this highly contagious virus. A COVID-19 vaccine, in combination with other measures such as wearing appropriate PPE, frequent hand washing and social distancing, is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. We know that on average, one person with COVID-19 can infect another 2.5 people. Immunizing the health care workforce is a critical step in changing the trajectory of this pandemic and finally getting it behind us.

Will all caregivers be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, when eligible?

No, at this time the COVID-19 vaccine is not required. However, we strongly encourage all caregivers get vaccinated as soon as they become eligible. We know that caregivers are critically important to the fight against COVID-19. Immunizing the health care workforce for COVID-19 is a critical step in changing the trajectory of this pandemic and finally getting it behind us. Like PPE, vaccines are an important line of defense against disease. The COVID-19 vaccine can limit the spread of COVID-19 by helping to protect you and those around you.

Can I pick and choose which vaccine I get (Pfizer vs. Moderna)? 

Initially, caregivers who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be given the vaccine that is available at their vaccination location. Some caregivers may get the Pfizer vaccine and others may get the Moderna vaccine. Both vaccines have shown similar safety and efficacy results. The important thing will be to get caregivers vaccinated as soon as possible, so we can stop this disease in its tracks.

What factors should I take into account when choosing my level of interest in getting the vaccine?

According to CDC guidelines, there are some people who may be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and/or becoming severely ill who should take extra precautions, like getting the vaccine. These groups include certain racial and minority groups, people with developmental disabilities, people in rural communities, people experiencing homelessness and people with certain medical conditions. We strongly advise our caregivers to carefully weigh their risk factors when deciding whether or not to get the vaccine.

If I am on the medical staff but not actively in the hospital, can I get vaccinated at Providence?

Affiliated clinicians who have access to the Providence IT network and are active in our facilities are eligible for vaccination through Providence. The VAV tool collects communication preferences and helps us prioritize based on role, work location and availability. It’s possible that other distribution sites, such as Walgreens and CVS, will be available for vaccinations starting in January. At that time, we would encourage clinicians who are not actively practicing in our hospitals to get vaccinated through one of these other sites.

Do I still have to wear a mask if I’ve gotten the vaccine?
Yes, caregivers are still required to wear a mask even if they’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Our masking policies for caregivers, patients and visitors still apply. Like PPE, vaccines are an important line of defense against this highly contagious virus. We know that on average, one person with COVID-19 can infect another 2.5 people. A COVID-19 vaccine, in combination with other measures such as wearing a mask, frequent hand washing and social distancing, is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. Safety for our caregivers and patients is our number one priority.

Will there be any compensation if I experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine that keep me from coming to work?
If a caregiver experiences COVID-like side effects (e.g., fever, chills, etc.) within 48 hours of receiving either dose of the vaccine, they are eligible for up to two days total of pandemic administrative leave pay if they miss scheduled shifts due to their vaccination. They must notify their core leader within those 48 hours to be eligible for this leave. Caregivers experiencing COVID-like side effects must also notify Caregiver Health Services to report their symptoms per federal and state requirements since the vaccine has been authorized for emergency use only at this time.

Will I be compensated if I am scheduled to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on my day off?
Caregivers are encouraged to schedule their vaccine appointments at times they are scheduled work and their absence from their department/unit can be accommodated.  However, during the emergency use authorization period when there is limited quantity of the vaccine and fewer options for vaccination, caregivers who because of appointment availability and staffing needs in their department or unit, need to schedule one or both of the COVID-19 vaccine doses on their day off, will receive one hour of pay at their base wage rate.  That time will not be considered hours worked.  It is intended to recognize the inconvenience associated with vaccine availability and limited appointment times.

Is Providence extending the COVID-19 health care benefits for myself and my dependents?
Our family of organizations are offering 100% coverage of in-network medical claims for COVID-19 treatment for caregivers and their dependents enrolled in our medical plans through March 31. Approved COVID-19 vaccines will be covered by all of our medical plans at 100 percent as they become publicly available.

For caregivers in Southern California, Blue Shield has not yet made a decision on extending 100 percent COVID care beyond Dec. 31, 2020. For updates from Blue Shield, go to Blue Shield’s COVID site.


About the Author

The Providence News Team brings you the updates to keep you informed about what's happening across the organizational ecosystem. From partnerships to new doctor announcements, we are committed to keeping you informed.

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