The rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has slowed the spread of the virus and enabled businesses to begin opening back up.
How can businesses safely get back to normal? And how can you encourage employees to get vaccinated? Austin Regional Clinic doctors share advice for translating the CDC workplace guidance for your unique business situation and tips on encouraging your employees to get vaccinated.
As more people get vaccinated and incidents of COVID-19 illness continue to drop, guidelines are loosening and that’s good news for local businesses. According to the latest guidance from the CDC, fully vaccinated people can resume many of their pre-pandemic activities without masking or social distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. What’s best for your business?
“The evidence is clear that the risk of transmission and infection is low for people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19,” says Dr. Manish Naik, ARC Chief Medical Officer and Chief Medical Information Officer. “Even if a breakthrough infection occurs, symptoms are generally mild and the risk of hospitalization and death is extremely low. The risk of a fully vaccinated person transmitting is also extremely low.”
The primary risk now is an unvaccinated person spreading the virus to another unvaccinated person. You’ll want to consider the vaccination status of your employees and the vaccination status of people who come into your business to determine the risk of transmission.
If your office is not open to the public or people under the age of 12 or others who cannot safely receive a vaccination, it’s probably safe to no longer require masking for employees that are fully vaccinated. You may continue to require masking if people who haven’t been vaccinated are likely to come into your work space.
Even though the COVID-19 vaccine has proven to minimize transmission of the virus and decrease the severity of symptoms in the rare case of a breakthrough infection, the vaccination rate of fully vaccinated residents in Travis County is still holding at 55%. While that’s a step in the right direction, it’s still long way from the 70% required to keep the rate of infection down.
Side effects may be a concern for some people. “Most patients can take a pain or fever reliever and be fine, and the symptoms go away within 1-2 days,” says Dr. Farron Hunt, Family Medicine at ARC Manor. She has not had to write an extended work excuse note for anyone.
As an employer, you can encourage your employees to get vaccinated by sharing facts about the science behind the vaccination:
- The more people who get vaccinated, the more difficult it is for the COVID-19 virus to spread.
- While the vaccines were developed quickly, the vaccines have undergone rigorous testing. Clinical trials and the vaccination of hundreds of millions of people around the world have proven the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
- The vaccine offers long-term protection from severe complications of COVID-19 and minimizes transmission of the virus to others.
- All of the currently available vaccines are more than 90-95% effective at preventing severe symptoms that lead to hospitalization and death.
- Allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare and side effects generally resolve in a few days.
- mRNA vaccines do not alter human DNA or cause genetic changes and they do not cause infertility.
- Once you are vaccinated, you can start doing more of the activities you enjoyed BEFORE the pandemic, such as gathering indoors without masks with others who are fully vaccinated (except where required by federal, state, or local regulations, including business and workplace guidance).
- You can travel again.
- You can gather in groups and dine at restaurants.
- You can attend movies in theaters again.
- You can visit with family again.
- You can enjoy live music and sporting events again.
The ARC website offers a comprehensive list of COVID-19 FAQs, including answers to many common questions about the virus and the vaccines as well as links to local health agencies and resources at the CDC. A vaccine appointment at ARC can easily be booked as well at ARCCovidVaccine.com. ARC also has a 24/7 COVID-19 Hotline: 866-453-4525.
Another convenient resource for healthcare advice is eMD Access, ARC’s on-demand telemedicine service. eMD Access is an affordable subscription service with no insurance required, and is staffed 24/7/365 by both family medicine and pediatric ARC physicians. The service is available to employers, health plans, or by subscription to individuals and families. For more information on how to sign up, visit eMDAccess.com
As we all begin to return to in-person activities, there is an increased risk of infection from interaction with others if you are not fully vaccinated. Experts say the vaccines are the best tool to protect against COVID-19 infection and ensure return to normalcy and business as usual.
Arming ourselves with the facts is the best next step for local business and peace of mind. Encourage your employees to:
- Know the facts.
- Get vaccinated.
- Relax and get back to normal.
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