The first COVID-19 vaccines are here, and more are expected in early 2021. Employers are thinking through how best to prepare and support their employees from a health and safety, educational and legal perspective. This updated paper examines the current state of COVID-19 vaccines and identifies the areas employer plan sponsors will need to contemplate as vaccines become widely available. It is important to note that the data and the opinions reflected in this paper are captured at a point in time and could change rapidly in the current environment.

Vaccine Headlines

As of December 20, 2020, two COVID-19 vaccines have been given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for administration in the United States – the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Both vaccines have similar mechanisms, and both have efficacy of 95-98% in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 related disease.

Both vaccines require two doses, with Pfizer/BioNTech at 21 days apart and Moderna at 28 days apart. Although partial immunity is conferred after the first dose, full immunity does not develop until 1-2 weeks after the second dose. Therefore, it is critical that people comply with the two-dose regimen. Individuals should request and record the manufacturer of the vaccine being administered to confirm they receive the same vaccine for their second dose. The CDC has produced paper vaccination tracking cards, and there are several digital apps and vaccination passports under development.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for individuals over 16 years old and the Moderna vaccine is approved for individuals over 18. More studies are underway to test the vaccine in populations under 18. Neither vaccine has been tested in pregnant or breastfeeding women, therefore these individuals should discuss their health status and specific circumstances with their physician before deciding to take the vaccine.

There are additional vaccines in the pipeline expected to apply for EUA in 2021, including at least 15 in phase III trials (the phase before FDA approval) with larger human populations.

Vaccine Distribution and the Employer Response

Click below to continue reading about initial vaccine distribution and considerations for employers as the vaccine becomes more widely available.

Please be advised that any and all information, comments, analysis, and/or recommendations set forth above relative to the possible impact of COVID-19 on potential insurance coverage or other policy implications are intended solely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal or medical advice. As an insurance broker, we have no authority to make coverage decisions as that ability rests solely with the issuing carrier. Therefore, all claims should be submitted to the carrier for evaluation. The positions expressed herein are opinions only and are not to be construed as any form of guarantee or warranty. Finally, given the extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, comments above do not take into account any applicable pending or future legislation introduced with the intent to override, alter or amend current policy language.

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