Answering Your Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Click here for more information about the COVID-19 Vaccine.

How are we preparing to receive and store the vaccine?
We have well-established protocols for receiving and distributing vaccines throughout our care sites. Some vaccines being developed will require an extremely cold storage environment; and we are prepared to accommodate those vaccines when they are available.

How many doses will we get?
We do not yet know how many doses we will get. Our expectation is that any COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed in phases starting with a limited number of doses, but information has not been provided about how many doses might be included in each phase. We also expect to receive additional doses every week, so our ability to vaccinate employees will increase quickly. We are closely monitoring the progress of the vaccine and developing guidelines for distribution depending on the number of doses we receive.

Will vaccine allocation double each week to accommodate new recipients and those who need a second dose?
CHI St. Vincent is required to track the number of doses provided and report to the CDC. This will ensure that the next allocation includes enough doses to accommodate new recipients and those who need a second dose. Initially supply will be limited but we anticipate there will be sufficient supply to vaccinate all health care workers who want it, possibly as early as the end of January.

Do you have to get two doses of the vaccine? How far apart should the doses be?
Vaccines currently being evaluated for Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA require two doses per recipient. The time between doses is 21 days or 28 days, minimum, depending on which vaccine you receive. At the time of vaccination, recipients will receive information about which vaccine they received and when they need to return for a second dose.

How will the vaccines be transported to each facility?
The distribution process will vary by state, but our facilities will receive the vaccine in cold storage containers for shipping. CHI St. Vincent has acquired the necessary equipment to store and administer the vaccine at the appropriate temperature.

Does our policy require that staff get the COVID-19 vaccine?
We do not have any plans at this time to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine. It is not yet clear whether or not an employer can mandate a COVID-19 vaccine. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) reportedly may or may not have the authority to allow mandates based on the wording that will accompany the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for each specific vaccine.

Will there be a cost for the vaccine?
There will be no cost to people receiving the vaccine. Internally, a cost center will be established for costs related to vaccine preparation and administration.

How will we decide who gets the first doses?
A national Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine has been developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM.) This framework indicates four phases of vaccine allocation, beginning with health care workers most at risk for exposure. CHI St. Vincent has convened an interdisciplinary team to address the ethical considerations around vaccine allocation and is following the science. Comprised of leaders from many different functions including HR, infection prevention, clinical, risk management, medication safety, and others, the team is considering several factors in decisions about vaccine distribution (for example: age, job function, clinical location, and others.)

If I am eligible to receive a vaccine in the first round but decline, can I receive it later?
Yes. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine and enough supply is available, you can get the vaccine at any time.

When will the next round of employees be eligible to receive the vaccine?
Vaccine allocation and administration depends on adequate supply. We expect to receive additional supply of the vaccine each week, and will continue to offer the vaccine to more employees and physicians as supply increases.

Are health care workers in the community included in allocation guidelines?
The CDC has indicated that health care workers should be among the first to receive the vaccine. This includes those with a high exposure risk, such as first responders. The process for offering the vaccine to health care workers in the community will be determined by local and state health departments.

How did CommonSpirit determine age, job function, and race/ethnicity as criteria for vaccine prioritization?
The criteria identified for vaccine allocation considers both personal risk and exposure risk. Data from the CDC indicate that age and race/ethnicity are two factors that significantly increase personal risk for COVID-19. Additionally, a person’s job function, clinical location within a care setting, and hours worked indicate the level of exposure risk. All of these factors are combined to determine prioritization for those with the highest personal and exposure risk.

Why aren’t underlying medical conditions considered as part of the criteria for vaccine prioritization?
While an underlying medical condition may increase your personal risk for COVID-19, it is protected health information, and therefore cannot be considered when determining initial prioritization guidelines. If you were not eligible to receive a vaccine in the first round, but feel you should be eligible due to a medical condition or other factors, you may submit an appeal through Human Resources or Medical Staff Services.

How will we know if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?
The care and safety of our employees and the patients we serve is always our top priority. As with any vaccine, CHI St. Vincent will not administer a COVID-19 vaccine unless the FDA has determined it is safe and effective. Additionally, CommonSpirit Health clinical leaders are conducting an independent review of clinical trial data and evidence.

Could those who receive a vaccine still transmit COVID to their families if they are exposed?
Two doses of the vaccine are necessary for the vaccine to be effective. The doses are administered three or four weeks apart, and it is still possible to contract and spread the virus during this time. Masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene are always recommended as an extra precautions, and will still be required in all of our facilities, including for those who are vaccinated.

Additional information on COVID-19 vaccine development, safety and distribution is available here:

• FDA: Emergency use authorization vaccines explained
• CDC: Coronavirus 2019-NCOV vaccines