Chubb’s Claims department includes a team of dedicated registered nurse professionals with extensive experience helping businesses address health and safety issues. Our nursing team also supports employees as they recover from injury and illness—and return to work. In the spirit of promoting safe and healthy workplaces, our medical specialists developed this edition of Chubb HealthBeat to help your business and employees better understand vaccination and COVID-19 vaccines.
We recognize that the months ahead may be stressful, but hope is growing. We are making progress toward ending the pandemic—and vaccines can play a critical role in helping us move past this historic crisis. We hope our vaccine guidance and information can help allay employee concerns and build confidence as businesses reopen.
The Value of Sharing Vaccine Information with Your Employees
COVID-19 has caused more than illness and death. It has also made people anxious and fearful. Misinformation about vaccines can contribute to this fear and uncertainty, but businesses can do a lot to counteract misinformation and help their employees understand the importance of vaccination.
Sharing credible, science-based information can give confidence to your workforce about the safety and effectiveness of vaccination. You’ll build trust with your employees and support workplace safety with clear, accurate communications about COVID-19 vaccines.
Approved COVID-19 Vaccines
As of April 2021, the United States has approved three vaccines to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and control the pandemic. These FDA-approved vaccines are known by the companies that developed them:
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two shots, administered 21 days and 28 days apart, respectively. The J&J/Janssen vaccine requires a single shot.
The CDC recommends nearly everyone get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible. The exceptions are individuals who have experienced allergic reactions to vaccine ingredients or who experienced an allergic reaction to their first vaccine dose (for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines).
Many people are concerned about allergic reactions to vaccines, so it’s important for your employees to understand that severe allergic reactions are rare. In addition, if allergic reactions might occur, vaccination providers are typically prepared to immediately and effectively respond. The CDC also recommends vaccination for people who have already had COVID-19.
The distribution of vaccines varies by state. Check with your state’s public health agency for information on vaccine availability, vaccination sites, and scheduling.
Here is a key point to help address employee concerns about COVID-19 vaccines: In the United States, vaccines are held by law to very high safety standards. Vaccines are rigorously tested and evaluated before being licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended for use by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Once a vaccine is approved for use, every batch produced is tested for safety and quality. Vaccines are continuously monitored once shots begin to be administered. The U.S. maintains one of the most advanced systems in the world for tracking vaccine safety. Millions of people in the U.S. have now received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense vaccine safety monitoring in U.S. history.
In the course of monitoring COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC and FDA identified an increased risk of a rare adverse event following the use of the J&J/Janssen vaccine. A small number of women under 50 years old developed a serious condition involving blood clots. The two agencies recommended a pause in the use of the J&J/Janssen vaccine, but following careful evaluation, they determined that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks and recommended its use be resumed. Women under 50 should be aware of this rare but increased risk, which has not been associated with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
The bottom line is, vaccines are a safe, reliable tool for stopping the spread of disease, including COVID-19. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States contain the coronavirus and thus, they cannot give someone COVID-19.
COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects
Your employees should be aware that side effects from the vaccine are common; they generally indicate that the vaccine is helping to build protection against COVID-19 and may include:
Side effects rarely last more than a few days, but they may impact an employee’s ability to work. For people receiving the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, side effects may be more intense after the second shot.
Some people experience no side effects—this is not a cause for concern either as the vaccines have been proven to be effective whether or not you develop side effects.
The CDC advises people NOT to take over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen) or acetaminophen before vaccination to try to prevent side effects.
How COVID-19 Vaccines Help Prevent Illness
COVID-19 vaccines help the body learn to fight the coronavirus without causing disease. The body develops “memory” and defensive blood cells that can recognize and fight the virus if it enters your body. It takes two weeks after you’ve received your second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or your first and only shot of the J&J/Janssen vaccine for your body to build immunity to the novel coronavirus.
Some vaccines produce what’s called “sterilizing immunity,” meaning that a virus cannot replicate in the body and cause infection. COVID-19 vaccines, like many other vaccines, do not produce sterilizing immunity. It is still possible to be infected by the coronavirus, but because of the vaccine, your body is less likely to have a symptomatic reaction. All COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. reduce infection, hospitalization, and mortality.
Vaccines that do not provide sterilizing immunity still have a successful history of containing infectious diseases. When a sufficient proportion of the U.S. population acquires immunity—through vaccination or prior illness—our nation will achieve community immunity, also known as herd immunity. Even individuals who have not been vaccinated will have some protection because the disease will have a reduced opportunity to spread from person to person. Infectious disease experts generally agree that mass vaccinations will be most effective way for a community to achieve this herd immunity.
Maintaining Workplace Safety
Employees who are two weeks past the completion of their vaccinations can begin to return to some normal activities, including gathering indoors without masks with other fully vaccinated people.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that vaccinated employees continue to follow COVID-19 precautions at work, including:
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing a workplace free from hazards that could cause physical harm or death. Depending on the nature of your business, you may want to consider the following safety measures:
The Historical Context of COVID-19 Vaccines
Employees may feel more confident about COVID-19 vaccines when you share reputable information about the long, successful history of vaccination. The practice of fighting disease via vaccination dates back more than 200 years. The first vaccine—for smallpox—was developed in 1796. Smallpox was one of the deadliest human diseases, killing millions over thousands of years. As a result of vaccination worldwide, smallpox was eradicated, with the final cases occurring in the late 1970s.
Vaccines have greatly reduced the prevalence of many diseases that once inflicted a terrible toll, including polio and measles. Today, children regularly receive vaccines that prevent a range of illnesses. Annual influenza vaccinations help limit the impact of seasonal flu. COVID-19 vaccines will play a critical role in defeating today’s historic pandemic.
This document is advisory in nature and is offered as a resource to be used together with your professional insurance advisors in maintaining a loss prevention program. It is an overview only, and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your insurance broker, or for legal, engineering or other professional advice.