COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ's for Independent Providers
This page was last updated on 12/24/2020 at 4:37 PM.
The information on this page is intended for providers who have a contractual alignment with LVHN, and independent providers who have privileges to practice at LVHN.
Will it become mandatory to get the COVID_19 vaccine at some point? If so will an employee be able to decline getting the vaccine due to safety concerns? Or will the employee risk termination if they decline the vaccine?
I had to decline the vaccine when it was offered due to being scheduled to work at a different campus that day. Will my name go back in the lottery, or do I have to wait until all other colleagues are offered the vaccine before I have another chance?
Q: The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. What does that mean?
A: In an emergency, like a pandemic, the FDA can make a judgment that it is worth releasing something for use even without the typical timeline for a new vaccine or drug. The administrative portions of the trial have been sped up. The scientific analysis of clinical trial participants remains the same for these and all other vaccines. If there’s evidence that strongly suggests that patients have benefited from the vaccine in clinical trials and that it is safe, the agency can issue an EUA to make it available. The FDA has issued EUAs many times previously in other situations. The EUA process is well established and is not something newly created to address COVID-19 vaccine development.
A: We will not initially require our employees or independent providers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Our team continues to monitor the availability of the vaccine and will offer it to all colleagues based on a prioritized risk-based system, with front-line COVID-19 caregivers receiving the vaccine first. Given LVHN’s dedication to patient safety, as vaccine doses become available, we strongly encourage colleagues to be vaccinated to protect themselves, patients and other colleagues.
A: Before the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization, the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines were reviewed by panels of independent experts retained by the companies; by FDA scientific staff; and by an independent panel of experts convened by the FDA. The Pfizer vaccine has been proven 95 percent effective and the Moderna vaccine has been shown to be 94.5 percent effective. There are no reported serious safety concerns from these two vaccines. The CDC and the FDA will continue to monitor individuals who have received the vaccine to ensure there’s no evidence of even rare safety issues.
A: It is not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use only RNA which is a gene from the virus. It is the code your body needs to create the virus’s spike protein, not the virus. Other vaccines being studied use inactivated virus. None of these vaccines can cause COVID-19.
A: We have enough vaccine to ensure all tier 1A colleagues receive the vaccination. This includes clinicians working in COVID-19 ICUs and those working in COVID-19 units, including the emergency departments. In order to ensure fairness, we will be randomly selecting from tier 1B next, which includes independent providers. Employees without patient-facing roles will receive their vaccines at a later date. For a look at our planned tiered system, please see LVHN COVID-19 vaccination plan.
A: We used guidelines from the National Academy of Medicine, a branch of the CDC called Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and Pennsylvania’s Department of Health to draft the priorities — one set for employees and physicians/other providers and another set for patients.
Q: Once the vaccine is authorized and distributed to LVHN, how will I schedule my vaccine and where will I get it?
A: An email will be sent to your LVHN email account if you are selected to receive the vaccine. We are asking that you respond as quickly as possible, ideally within 24 hours in order to hold your spot. If you choose not to receive the vaccine when it is first offered to you and decide later that you do want to be vaccinated, your name will go back on the list after all other colleagues have been offered the opportunity to be vaccinated. Vaccines will be given at LVHN hospitals.
A: No. You will not be able to choose whether you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. It will be based upon what we have available at the time, however, both have been shown to have very similar safety and efficacy rates.
A: If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days or have been around someone who has, you should reschedule your COVID-19 vaccine.
A: Both of the first two vaccines awaiting FDA Emergency Use Authorization will require two doses: an initial vaccination and then a second shot either three or four weeks later. The Pfizer vaccine requires a booster 21 days later, and the Moderna vaccine requires a second dose 28 days later. The different vaccine products are not interchangeable. The second dose must be completed with the same vaccine brand as the first dose. Both doses are important to ensure full protection.
A: We have received our first shipments and have begun vaccinating colleagues. Vaccine supply is limited in the early stage of distribution and is expected to improve in the coming months.
A: Pfizer has reported that some Phase III clinical trial participants experienced mild-to-moderate side effects with its investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Scientists anticipate that the shots may cause mild flu-like side effects — including sore arms, muscle aches and fever. We are recommending that you take ibuprofen or acetaminophen (if you can safely take them) before you get the vaccine. This will help to significantly alleviate the side effects.
A: These two COVID-19 vaccines are not completely effective unless you receive the second dose. Your second dose will be scheduled when you call to schedule your first dose.
A: Currently due to limited quantities of the vaccine, we are offering it to colleagues who are in high-risk roles. We will let you know when the vaccine is available for nonclinical colleagues who are at risk for complications from COVID-19. It is unlikely you will move up in prioritization ahead of those working directly with patients.
A: Yes. We have considered these physicians and allied health professionals in our tiered system. Please see LVHN COVID-19 vaccination plan.
A: Under the guidance from the CDC and Health and Human Services, front-line and other health care workers will receive the first deliveries, followed by patients according to a risk-based strategy.
A: We are not making the vaccine mandatory at this time, but we are strongly encouraging that our employees get it for your own safety and the safety of our patients. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus and spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
A: Because the data from the clinical trials indicate that the vaccines are safe and effective, it is a smart thing to do to protect yourself, your family and your colleagues. The more people in the community who get the vaccine the better chance we have of stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This group will be in the last tier to be offered the vaccine.
Q: I have a health condition that prevents me from getting vaccines with live viruses. Does the COVID-19 vaccine use a live virus?
A: Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are mRNA vaccines. This means they are made from genetic material that provides your body with the code it needs to create spike proteins (not the virus) and build immunity. AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s are non-replicating virus-vectored vaccines. None of these vaccines are live vaccines. When vaccines are licensed, part of the information that will be provided will include who should or should not get each vaccine. At that time, we recommend talking with your health care provider to determine which vaccine will be the best one for you to get, given your medical history.
A: Based on the federal guidelines, LVHN is only providing employees, physicians, other providers and patients with the COVID-19 vaccine. When there is adequate vaccine, family members may be able to get them at LVHN, go to their doctor or retail outlets to receive their vaccination, much like they do with the flu vaccine.
A: We expect that will be based on the degree of the person’s illness. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will make this clear in its “precautions and contraindications” advice regarding each of the vaccines.
A: Yes. While individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 do produce antibodies, the antibody levels and how long they last are not known.
A: Yes. We should all continue wearing face masks, practicing excellent hand hygiene and social distancing until enough vaccine is manufactured and distributed, until we know how long a vaccine will protect us, and until our community shows reduced levels of spread. It is unclear at this point if the vaccine prevents people from becoming infected with COVID-19 or if it prevents feeling sick when infected. That means you could still transmit virus after you’ve received your shot.
Q: Will I be required to wear all other PPE when caring for patients as outlined in the infection prevention protocols?
A: Yes. Please keep in mind that much still needs to be learned about the virus and the vaccine. To ensure you are optimally protected, we ask that you continue to practice the same precautions mandated by LVHN.
A: According to the CDC, a vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies and cellular immunity to combat that specific disease, like it would if you were actually exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease without having to get the disease first. This is why vaccines are necessary — they prevent disease by letting you develop immunity in a safe and controlled way.
A: Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines use novel messenger-RNA, or mRNA, technology, which uses modified genetic material to cause the body to create a protein from the virus. The immune system then recognizes the protein as foreign and initiates an immune response. This would be the first mRNA product to receive emergency use authorization by the FDA. The study has enrolled 43,538 volunteers. About 42 percent of global participants and 30 percent of U.S. participants have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. In Pfizer and BioNTech’s late-stage clinical trial, 50 percent of the volunteers got the vaccine, while the other half got a placebo of saltwater. Then they waited to see who would get sick. Only 170 volunteers out of 44,000 have so far gotten sick with COVID-19, and 95 percent of those were in the placebo group.
A: The AstraZeneca/Oxford team, as well as Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, are also working on vaccines that use different technology for delivering the viral genes that can produce viral proteins to activate the immune system. Novavax and the Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline are working on a vaccine that uses proteins themselves to trigger an immune response. All are close to completing their testing.
A: Current data shows that both the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccines are 95 percent effective in preventing the person from getting sick with COVID-19. During the clinical trials, scientists compared how many people in the vaccinated group and the placebo group went on to develop the disease. The companies will continue to test people in the studies for antibodies to the COVID-19 virus, which would include people who did not show any symptoms of their infection. This allows them to get a better sense of whether the vaccines protect against not only getting sick (experiencing symptoms), but also against infection (becoming infected without experiencing symptoms).
A: These vaccines will require two doses and need to be kept at very low temperatures — much colder than a household freezer. Many hospitals and clinics do not have the ability to store the medicine at these ultra-low temperatures, so that must be worked out once these vaccines get FDA approval. At LVHN, we have ample ultra-cold storage facilities to store both vaccines for patients and employees. And, during distribution, we still need to keep the vaccines cold and the temperature strictly monitored. This is why appointments are required to receive a vaccination. As indicated earlier, the supply of vaccine is limited in December and is expected to improve gradually as vaccine manufacturing increases in the coming months.
A: It normally takes about two to three weeks after the second dose for cellular immunity to develop and several weeks for a full antibody response.
A: A flu vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. This can keep you from having a more severe illness. While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen this winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread during that time. You should encourage all of your friends and family to get flu shots, just like we have at LVHN.
A: No. These vaccines will not cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection or vaccination and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.
A: Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19, and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, LVHN colleagues are advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 previously. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person, and the evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long in some people.
A: According to the CDC, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about. The CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
A: Scientists are still studying this and will make a determination this once the vaccine is distributed and more data is available.
A: In the short term, no. The soonest that coronavirus vaccines could become widely available to the public would be in the spring. But if effective vaccines become available — and if most people get them — the pandemic could drastically shrink. This means we are one giant step closer to getting our lives back to normal provided as many people as possible get vaccinated as early as possible.
Q: If the vaccine is stored at well below freezing - how will the person receiving the vaccine deal with the extreme cold of the vaccination in their body?
A: The cold chain must be properly maintained during storage and distribution. When the vaccine is going to be administered, it must be thawed and then diluted with normal saline. The vaccine is then stable for several days refrigerated or for several hours at room temperature.
A: There is no data on the safety of mRNA vaccines in pregnant women, as they were excluded in both studies of mRNA vaccine. The Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine recommends that women who are pregnant and at high risk of being exposed to COVID, should have a discussion with their providers to discuss benefits and risks. As for women who are trying to conceive, the studies recommend delaying trying to become pregnant for 2 months after the second dose of vaccine. This seems to be a general recommendation to women participating in vaccine trials rather than a known risk to this particular subgroup of women.
Q: Will it become mandatory to get the COVID_19 vaccine at some point? If so will an employee be able to decline getting the vaccine due to safety concerns? Or will the employee risk termination if they decline the vaccine?
A: At this time the vaccine is not mandatory. In the event the vaccine would be made mandatory in the future,a policy would be distributed to all colleagues which will include a process for those who feel they can not or should not take the vaccine.
Q: Can you edit your vaccine survey answer? I put January but would like to take it December if it is available.
A: Thank you for your interest in taking the vaccine. There is no need to edit your survey answers. Your submitted answer does not prohibit you from changing your preference of when you would like to be vaccinated.
A: It is not clear what you mean by onset and duration of action. Efficacy for the Pfizer vaccine was measured at 14 days after the 2nd dose. We do not have Moderna's data to review at this point, but it is probably similar. The efficacy after one dose of vaccine was not studied specifically, although many people are interested in this. As for the duration of immunity, it is not yet known.
Q: What is the census among the scientific community about potential long-term effects or consequences of the vaccine?
A: We hope the long-term consequence is persistent immunity to SARS-COV-2. But other long-term effects aren't known at this time. The FDA's requirement for EUA was for manufacturers like Pfizer and Moderna to submit at least 2 months of safety data. New vaccines always undergo "post-marketing surveillance," and adverse events from the vaccine are reported to a federal systems (VAERS).
Q: Is there any data on the safety of breastfeeding women receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna Vaccine? Will breast feeding employees be able to receive either vaccine?
A: Lactating women were excluded from both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials. There are no data to say if vaccine gets into breastmilk. Breast-feeding employees should have a conversation with their maternal/fetal medicine providers to discuss risks vs benefits.
Q: I am listed as a Tier 1a colleague but am currently breastfeeding. Will I be eligible to obtain the vaccine when I am no longer breastfeeding; and how would I go about requesting it at that time?
A: The vaccine supply will initially be limited, and therefore vaccination appointments are being offered randomly to Tier 1. Our hope is that supply will be ramped up quickly, so that at some point all tier 1 colleagues, and beyond, will be able to schedule an appointment to be vaccinated as desired. You will be eligible to be vaccinated at any time, but whether or not you will receive the vaccine will depend on the availability of vaccine when you are ready to take it. Once vaccine supply increases, additional information will be provided to colleagues regarding scheduling your vaccination.
Q: Are there any pre-existing conditions that would be contraindications to getting the vaccine, such as asthma, kidney disease, etc?
A: At this point, the only contraindication to getting vaccine would be a known anaphylactic reaction to the components of the vaccine.
Q: What are some of the side affects that are not really being talked about? I am an older person who does not want to add other health issues to what I already have.
A: The most common side effects with the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are soreness and pain at the injection site, fevers, muscle aches, and joint pains. Many of these side effects are related to your immune system responding appropriately to the vaccine. The FDA only required 2 months of post-vaccination safety data, so we have yet to see what other side effects might occur. Pfizer plans to follow its study participants for 2 years. People who are being vaccinated are being asked to sign up for Vsafe, a CDC product that will ask about symptoms.
A: Asthma is not a contraindication to getting mRNA vaccine. People with asthma were enrolled in both trials.
Q: How can I obtain a copy of the package insert for review, prior to deciding to be vaccinated? Where can I go (online) to review the manufacturer studies done on the vaccines?
A: There is no package insert as the vaccines have not been licensed yet. Go to the FDA's website to look up the VRBPAC's briefing on both vaccines.
Q: How many employees are in each tier? In what approximate timeframe can tier 1b employees expect the vaccine? Will second doses be prioritized over new employees receiving their first dose? Thank you.
A: Tier 1a is approximately 3500-4000 employees. We are still calculating the size of tier 1B. Second doses will be scheduled at the same time as colleagues getting first doses. We hope to make more vaccine appointments available at that time but this will still depend on the weekly allocation of vaccine from the state.
Q: I had to decline the vaccine when it was offered due to being scheduled to work at a different campus that day. Will my name go back in the lottery, or do I have to wait until all other colleagues are offered the vaccine before I have another chance?
A: If you are in tier 1a, and had to defer vaccination, you will be allowed to schedule once we complete vaccinating the list of the randomized 975 doses. This was completed over the weekend, and you will see additional messaging coming out soon about the remainder of tier 1a doing self scheduling via myLVHN (or being contacted by email if you are not signed up for myLVHN).
Q: If I chose to opt out of the vaccine on my survey but now would like to get it, is that possible?
A: Yes, you will still be able to be vaccinated. Your survey response does not preclude you from being vaccinated.
A: Our independent providers are valued partners. There will be no charge, either for vaccine or for administrative cost, to independent members of our medical staff and their office staff that we vaccinate.