During a Thursday webinar, local health officials covered a range of topics relating to vaccines and workplaces — such as requiring employees to be vaccinated, requiring proof, and continued mask usage.
Clay Horton, Director of the Green River District Health Department, and Dr. Michael Kelley, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Owensboro Health, answered questions during the webinar hosted by the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce.
Horton and Kelley both noted the vaccine rollout has gone smoothly overall in Daviess County and encourage everyone who is willing and able to receive a vaccine.
The full video can be found here. Below are some of the questions presented and the times they were asked, as well as a brief summary of the answers.
8:50 — Can Kentucky workplaces require their employees to be vaccinated?
Horton said the answer is probably yes, with some exceptions such as for those with medical conditions. Vaccination is not required by federal or state governments, but employers may have that flexibility. If a workplace is looking to make that requirement, they should seek out more guidance. Kelley said there is likely a path to require it, but he hopes there won’t be much need for mandates
13:45 — Do these vaccines impact fertility? (Kelley began speaking on the subject around 12:35.)
Kelley said there’s no evidence that this type of vaccination should lead to fertility issues, but said to talk to an obstetrician or primary care physician if there are still concerns.
15:15 — Can an employer require proof if someone claims to have been vaccinated?
Horton said they can require proof of vaccination but not any other medical information. Kelley said at OH employees wear a tag indicating who has been vaccinated for the flu, so workplaces could encourage something similar for COVID-19. He said he thinks it would be good for people to know who has been vaccinated if they are in close proximity with each other with masks off, such as during lunch.
16:35 — If an employee has already had COVID-19, should they still be vaccinated?
Kelley and Horton said the short answer was yes, also noting that there is some suggestion in the medical world that immunity from the vaccine is stronger than the natural immunity from infection.
18:25 — What’s the difference between the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines?
Kelley said there are small differences such as in storage specifications, application, and the way studies were done. He noted that in all three, people are not dying, requiring ventilators or going to intensive care after receiving the vaccines.
20:15 — How can a workplace become a local vaccination center?
Horton said there may be a time and place for that, but they haven’t been able to offer on-site clinics because they are trying to vaccinate as many people as they can as quickly as possible. That means not offering clinics at private businesses just yet, so employers should encourage their employees to find a vaccine wherever it’s available now. Kelley said OH is trying to be a “workhorse,” but they are still mostly asking people to come to them.
28:45 — Do people need to wear masks after they are vaccinated?
Horton said “we need to use all of our tools” and not move too fast and give up the ground that has been gained over the last couple of months. He still encourages distancing and wearing masks unless in small settings with others who have been vaccinated. Kelley said to keep doing it because while the situation is better, there is still risk.
33:30 — Why should someone considered low-risk be vaccinated?
Kelley said low-risk individuals could still be a carrier. Horton added that under new guidance, people who are vaccinated wouldn’t have to quarantine if they are exposed and asymptomatic.
36:00 — When can we expect vaccines to be approved for children?
Kelley said it’s still early in the trials, but as early as 2-3 months.
By Ryan Richardson The Owensboro Times