A major part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) is providing expedited access to vaccines and encouraging all American adults to get vaccinated.  To that end, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a couple of updated pieces of guidance about vaccinated individuals and vaccination programs at work.

  • On March 9, 2021, the CDC published information on what individuals can expect when fully vaccinated (2 weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, or 2 weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine)
    • Fully vaccinated individuals can now do the following:
      • Gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without a mask
      • Gather indoors with unvaccinated low-risk people from one other household without masks
      • Avoid quarantine when exposed to COVID-19 (until experiencing symptoms)
        • But if living in a group setting might need to quarantine and get tested after exposure for the sake of the other group residents
    • Fully vaccinated people are still subject to the other rules for now while the CDC learns more about the real-world impact of vaccines
      • When at work, gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one other household, or gathering with high-risk individuals, continue to wear masks, social distance, and regularly wash your hands
      • Avoid medium or large-sized gatherings
      • Consider delaying travel (but remember to follow all safety requirements when traveling, including wearing masks)
  • On March 16, 2021, the CDC published information to encourage employers in helping employees get vaccinated as soon as supply becomes more widely available in May.  Some of their guidance advises employers to:
    • Share clear, complete, and accurate messages
    • Promote confidence in the decision to get vaccinated (perhaps partnering with a well-known, respected community member)
    • Engage employees in plans to address potential barriers to getting vaccinated
    • Consider a no-charge on-site workplace vaccination program during work hours for employees, contractors, and temps
      • In partnership with existing occupational health/flu shot clinics or temporary/mobile vaccination clinics (or registering to administer vaccines with properly trained staff, noting the vaccination provider must prepare and monitor for managing potential anaphylaxis)
      • If the employer has a large number of workers on site with predictable schedules with enough space to follow social distancing protocols
    • Otherwise, consider organizing and supporting off-site vaccination programs
      • Note pharmacies like Walgreen and CVS have taken major partnership roles with the federal government in administering vaccinations
    • Potentially plan more than one organized effort, as hesitant employees may gain confidence to participate after seeing coworkers participate
    • Offer flexible, non-punitive leave policies for getting vaccinated and recovering from any symptoms afterward
      • Note that ARPA allows employers that voluntarily extend FFCRA’s EPSL and EFML emergency leave benefits to use such time for getting vaccinated and recovering from symptoms, starting April 1, with most employers able to claim those emergency paid leave wages and benefits as 100% tax credit
    • Encourage employees to report adverse effects and provide a post-vaccination information sheet about the v-safe smartphone-based tool
    • Try to avoid retaliating or discriminating against those with medical or religious reasons for not being vaccinated (see EEOC Q&A #13)
    • Provide posters reminding vaccinated employees that there are still workplace safety measures to follow for a while

 

IMA will continue to monitor regulator guidance and offer meaningful, practical, timely information.

This material should not be considered as a substitute for legal, tax and/or actuarial advice. Contact the appropriate professional counsel for such matters. These materials are not exhaustive and are subject to possible changes in applicable laws, rules, and regulations and their interpretations.

Recent News

More news