As a hospital system that advocates for vaccinations and for the health and safety of our staff, Denver Health stands behind the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, once it is granted emergency use authorization by the FDA. Please review the following FAQs with information provided by Denver Health leadership and physicians/providers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Please note the FAQ is divided into two parts:

1. The Denver Health Employee Vaccine Distribution and Phasing/Timeline FAQ

2. The COVID-19 Vaccine Safety and Efficacy FAQ

1. EMPLOYEE VACCINE DISTRIBUTION & PHASING/TIMELINE FAQ

Q: I’ve heard a lot about different COVID vaccines. Which one is Denver Health getting?

Denver Health received the Pfizer vaccine and is currently vaccinating employees with this vaccine. The vaccine requires a two-dose administration, roughly 3 weeks apart. If you get the first dose, you will get the second dose. Denver Health is expected to receive the Moderna vaccine the week of Dec. 21. This vaccine also requires a two-dose administration, roughly 4 weeks apart. Please note that you must receive the same brand vaccine for both doses.

Q: Am I required to take the vaccine as a physician, nurse or other frontline staff?

No. Denver Health is not requiring any employees to take the vaccine at this time. We encourage our employees to receive the vaccination to protect our families, fellow staff, and patients and to increase the likelihood that we stay healthy to care for our patients. Staff should not feel pressure to take the vaccine nor should managers in any way pressure their teams to take the vaccine. However, all employees are asked to complete the COVD-19 Vaccination Pre-Registration Form so our hospital can better understand the vaccine needs for administration and distribution purposes.

  • If staff responds “YES” or “UNSURE”, a patient record is noted in EPIC for vaccine availability and notification via MyChart.
  • If staff responds “NO”, no record will be created and the employee will not be notified when the vaccine is available through MyChart. Staff will continue to receive general vaccine information and details should they choose to receive the vaccine in the future.

Q: Who is getting the vaccine first and why?

Denver Health received approximately 2,900 doses of Pfizer vaccines to be distributed for Phase I of a multi-phased distribution plan. The first groups are the so-called 1A and 1B groups. In deciding which staff will receive the first round of available vaccines, our hospital will follow guidelines developed by the State in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with vaccinations allotted to patient-facing frontline workers within inpatient and out-patient settings. Denver Health also received 5,600 doses of Moderna vaccines.

Q: Please explain the registration and notification process.

1. Fill Out the COVID-19 Vaccination Pre-registration Form: All employees should have received this pre-registration invite within the last two weeks. Everyone in the organization should complete this form to indicate if they are interested in, might be interested, or not interested in receiving the vaccine. If you change your mind at any time, please email COVID_Vaccine@dhha.org to request another form.

2. Ensure You Have a MyChart Account (Setup Help is Available): Communication about formal vaccine scheduling will be sent to the email associated with your MyChart account. If you do not have a MyChart account, you will receive an invite to set one up. If you are having trouble setting up your MyChart account or scheduling an appointment using MyChart:

Call MyChart Support

303-602-4380
Monday thru Friday 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Please note: The Help Desk cannot assist with this request.

3. Receive Your Invitation: Once you have activated your MyChart account, you will receive an invitation to schedule your first COVID vaccination appointment through MyChart. These invitations are sent at least twice per week to all employees in the 1A/1B priority group who indicated either they wanted the vaccine or were unsure if they wanted it. Important note: You need to LOG IN to MyChart to view the invitation to schedule the vaccine. The push from MyChart to email might not happen depending on your MyChart settings. Contact MyChart support if you have any MyChart access issues.

4. Schedule Your Vaccine: Please schedule your appointment right before you are scheduled to be off for a day or two in case you have mild post-vaccine symptoms. If that is not possible, schedule the next best option and notify your manager so they may work with you to facilitate your coverage while you leave the unit to get vaccinated or if you feel ill after receiving it.

5. Get Your First Dose; Schedule Your Second: After you have completed your vaccine appointment you will be asked to wait for 15 minutes to be monitored for a reaction. During that time, you will receive an invite through MyChart to schedule your 2nd vaccination.

Note: We are optimistic that all employees in the 1A/1B prioritization groups will be offered the vaccine by Jan. 15, due to the anticipated arrival of the Moderna vaccine by the week of Dec. 21. Future vaccine clinics, likely in early January, will be offered at sites other than the main campus. If you need to wait to be vaccinated until a later date, Denver Health will work with you to get you vaccinated.

Q: Who will be giving the vaccine: Do you need volunteers?

MAs, nurses, EMTs, physicians, pharmacists advanced practice providers, and paramedics are able to administer vaccines. We are not asking staff to volunteer their time to administer vaccines. They will be paid and OT will be approved. Anyone interested can send their name to COVID_vaccine@dhha.org to get connected.

Q: Are Denver Health patients getting the vaccine in this first phase?

Denver Health believes strongly in protecting both its staff and its patients, and we are following State and Federal guidelines. Under new state guidance, Phase I has been expanded to include Denver Health patients ages 70 and older who have been seen at a Denver Health facility within the last three years. People living in Long Term Care Facilities are also among the first priority group, and the government has contracted with commercial pharmacies to provide vaccine to care facility residents. Find additional details here about the vaccine distribution timeline.

Q: Where and When will the first vaccine be given?

The first vaccines were given on December 17, followed by a daily vaccine schedule. Vaccine will be given only via scheduled appointments. Initial vaccination clinics will be held in the basement of Pavilion C of the main hospital (Osler Room). Plans for expanding vaccination locations to Denver Health clinics are in process.

Q: If I decline the vaccine initially, but want it later can I change my registration?

Denver Health is committed to getting every person vaccinated who would like to be. We appreciate that staff may need some time to make a decision they are comfortable with. However, you will need to fill out a new form. If you do change your mind AFTER taking the pre-registration form, please let your supervisor or manager know or email COVID_Vaccine@dhha.org.

Q: Will family members of staff be eligible for the vaccine?

Family is not considered as part of the health care workers vaccination priority. We know that health care workers will receive the 1st round and even within our own facility we will be given direction on how to prioritize. Family members will most likely be vaccinated with other patients in the community unless they themselves work in health care.

Q: I don’t have a MyChart account yet, and I did not receive an activation email.

If you are on the 1A or 1B list, it is likely the email address we have listed as your primary in Epic is not one you regularly check (or even have access to anymore). Please call the MyChart Help Line at 303-602-4380 to update your primary email address in Epic and have a new activation email generated.

Q: I got an activation email, but I can’t get beyond the challenge questions to create my account.

It is likely the zip code on file in Epic is out of date. Please call the MyChart Help Line at 303-602-4380 to update your demographics and get signed in.

Q: How do I reschedule my appointment?

To reschedule your appointment, you must first cancel your existing appointment. The “Reschedule Appointment” does not work for ticket scheduling. If you need additional help, please contact the MyChart Help Line at 303-602-4380.

Q: Why am I not able to schedule beyond a certain date?

More scheduling slots will be added as we get additional doses of vaccine.

Q: Can I just call the appointment center to schedule my appointment?

We need to reserve Appointment Center resources to help patients. If you or your staff are legitimately unable to utilize MyChart (due to lack of internet, lack of access to a computer/mobile device, etc), that is the only time we would recommend seeking help from the Appointment Center for staff vaccine scheduling. If you need help working with MyChart, please contact the MyChart Help Line at 303-602-4380.

Q: If a heath care worker has had COVID-19 and recovered, should they still get vaccinated?

The vaccination may provide stronger or longer lasting protection than natural infection. For that reason, employees who have had COVID-19 will still be offered the vaccine. However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and they have met return to work criteria set forth by COSH.

Q: Is PPE still required after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. While we learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be necessary for everyone to continue using PPE to help stop this pandemic.

Q: Are there are plans to provide proof of vaccination for those who get it? I can envision this becoming something that airlines will request or foreign governments may ask for in order to permit entry once travel resumes.

Yes, we are going to be handing out Vaccine cards that employee will have as proof that they received the vaccine and there will be a place to add the second dose.

Q: If staff choose to receive the vaccine, will we have to accommodate them getting this on the clock or is it ok for them to do this on their own time?

We encourage all employees to work with their managers on an appropriate time to receive the vaccine. We do approve of employees receiving it on the clock, as we do with flu vaccine.

Q: What is our plan to communicate with the communities we serve? This will be very important to ensure our communities have accurate information to make decisions about vaccination.

We want to encourage everyone to get the vaccine. We’ll be reaching out to all of our patients on MyChart. We are being mindful of the diversity within our community and we need to be culturally sensitive in our outreach and communication when informing community members about the vaccine and its safety. Denver Public Health and CDPHE are also doing extensive outreach to engage with communities that are typically more hesitant to be vaccinated or have less access to healthcare.

Q: Will I have to pay for the vaccine?
No, at this time all of the doses are being purchased by the U.S. government. Your insurance carrier may be billed for an administrative or physician fee.

To ask questions not found on the FAQ, please email COVID_Vaccine@dhha.org.

2. COVID-19 VACCINE SAFETY AND EFFICACY FAQ

Q: Are the vaccines safe?
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have now been administered to over 35,000 people who have been closely monitored for any adverse events. They appear to be very safe. Additionally, safety of these vaccines will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. There will be a special vaccine monitoring system put into place just for the COVID vaccines called V-Safe that will be an app on a phone to report any issues with the vaccine in real time.

Q: How effective are these vaccines?
Initial results of studies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines show that the vaccine decreased the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 infection by about 95%.

In the Pfizer study, out of over 43,000 participants, 162 participants who received placebo (a saline injection) got sick with COVID-19 and only 8 participants who received the vaccine got sick with COVID-19. Efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics. The vaccine was equally effective across all gender and race/ethnicity groups. Approximately 42% of global participants and 30% of U.S. participants have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, and 41% of global and 45% of U.S. participants are 56-85 years of age. There were 10 severe cases of COVID-19 observed in the trial, with nine of the cases occurring in the placebo group and one in the vaccine group.

The Moderna study involving 30,000 participants in the US, included 196 cases of COVID-19, of which 30 cases were severe. Vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 was 94.1%; vaccine efficacy against severe COVID-19 was 100%. The study had more than 7,000 Americans over the age of 65 and included 5,000 persons with high-risk chronic conditions such as diabetes, severe obesity and cardiac disease. The study included more than 11,000 participants from communities of color, representing 37% of the study population, which is similar to the diversity of the U.S. at large.

Q: Will we only be using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines? Why did we choose those and what about the others?

They were the first two vaccines that went through Phase III trials and seeking an EUA for approval for use. We will consider other options as new vaccines become available. The AstraZeneca vaccine will likely not come up for EUA consideration for at least the next few months.

Q: What are the side effects of these vaccines?
It is important to recognize that part of why these vaccines work so well is that they provoke a strong immune response, which can cause people to feel unwell for a day or so after the vaccine. For some, this is described as feeling like they have a hangover, and it is more common after the second dose of vaccine. In the Pfizer and Moderna studies, the most common side effects include soreness, redness, or swelling around the injection site, fatigue, body aches, or headache. These reactions can be treated with ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) if needed.

Q: The side effects of the vaccine are the same as signs of COVID. Will we have numerous staff out because they are waiting for a response from the Employee Symptom Survey? How are we planning on handling an increase in employee testing? Or will COSH not recommend testing for those that have just received the vaccine?

Common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include fever, chills, headaches, pain at the injection site and fatigue. After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you may consider taking acetaminophen or NSAIDs to try and minimize the potential side effects.

If you develop these side effects, you may still come to work wearing appropriate PPE. The screening questions you are required to answer prior to coming to work will be modified to include language specific to having received the COVID-19 vaccine. However, because these symptoms can also be consistent with COVID-19 infection, if the symptoms last longer than 48 hours after vaccination or if you develop any new respiratory symptoms (rhinorrhea, cough, shortness of breath) or other COVID-19 symptoms (sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or new loss of taste or smell) after vaccination, you will need to either leave work or stay home from work and complete the Employee Survey to determine if COVID-19 testing is needed.

Q: How long does the protection of the vaccine last?

We don’t know at this time. The studies have followed people out 4-5 months but we need to follow the patients for a longer period of time.

Q: Do you need to quarantine from family if you receive the vaccine?

No. There is no virus in the vaccine so quarantine after receiving the vaccine is not necessary.

Q: Are there pediatric vaccines coming?

Not at this time. The Pfizer vaccine started to include children age 12-16 years in the last 2 months, so we may know more about this population soon, but the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) will not allow for pediatric vaccines.

Q: I heard one of the vaccine trials was suspended due to a serious adverse event in a participant. Should I be worried?
A study of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca (which has not yet concluded) was temporarily suspended because a participant in England developed a rare but serious condition called transverse myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord). After investigation, there was not evidence that the vaccine had caused the event, and the study has since resumed. Such medical events are bound to occur at some point during clinical trials involving so many people just by chance, and the amount of attention and caution with pausing the trial is a sign of how careful these trials are about assessing and demonstrating vaccine safety.

Q: Can the vaccines cause COVID-19? How do they work?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not contain whole virus so they cannot cause COVID-19. The vaccines consist of mRNA that cause your body to make a protein that is on the surface of the virus and your body makes an immune response to this protein. mRNA often makes people think of DNA and wonder if the vaccines interact with our genes: they do not! mRNA works in a completely different part of our cells. DNA is like files on your hard drive. mRNA is like a piece of paper you are making copies of on your copier.

Q: How many COVID-19 vaccines are currently under development?

As of December 4th, 10 vaccines have begun (and 2 have completed) large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials around the world including 5 in the US. There are more than 100 potential COVID vaccines in various stages of development.

You can keep track of which trials are going on and where they stand from several websites. Here are two good examples:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html

Q: How do I report if a patient has a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This national system collects these data to look for adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected or have unusual patterns of occurrence. Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event. Reports to VAERS help the CDC monitor the safety of vaccines. Safety is a top priority.

Health care providers will be required to report certain adverse events following vaccination to VAERS. Health care providers also have to adhere to any revised safety reporting requirements according to FDA’s conditions of authorized use throughout the duration of any Emergency Use Authorization; these requirements would be posted on FDA’s website.

Q: If I am or might be pregnant, should I get the COVID vaccine?

While the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was found safe and effective, the trial did not enroll pregnant women. At the present time it is not possible to say if there are additional safety concerns for pregnant women, or if the vaccine will work as well as it does in people who are not pregnant. While pregnant women are at increased risk of severe disease when they get COVID-19, neither the FDA nor CDC have stated that pregnant women should not get the vaccine. There are no specific reasons to believe that an mRNA vaccine like the Pfizer COVID vaccine would pose a risk to a pregnant woman or the fetus, but any certainty about safety in pregnancy will have to wait for future study. For instance, vaccines of pregnant women for other infections including whooping cough and influenza are safe and strongly recommended.

If you are pregnant or might be pregnant, Denver Health supports your decision whether you choose to receive the vaccine or not. If you need more time to make a decision, there will still be opportunity for you to receive a COVID vaccine at a later date.

  • If you are or might be pregnant, you are encouraged to discuss with your doctor if you have questions; CDC information is also available here.
  • If you elect to be vaccinated, it is not necessary to have a pregnancy test before receiving your vaccine.
  • It is recommended that pregnant women avoid medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Naproxen. Therefore if you are or might be pregnant, it is important that you only use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for any symptoms that might arise after vaccination.

Q: Is the vaccine safe if I am breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding mothers were not enrolled in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, and therefore we do not have definitive data about the safety of the vaccine in this scenario or any impact on lactation. However, there is no specific reason to suspect that the vaccine or any of its active components would enter breast milk or be harmful to your baby. If you have questions or concerns, you are encouraged to speak to your doctor; further information is also available from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Q: Can I receive the vaccine if I am immunocompromised?

The COVID-19 vaccine was not studied in immunocompromised individuals. While it is not expected to be harmful to individuals who are immunocompromised, it may not be as effective in this population. Because each immunocompromised patient can have different health issues, we recommend that immunocompromised individuals discuss the risks and benefits with their primary provider.

Q. Does the COVID-19 vaccine affect fertility?

There is no evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines have any impact on fertility.

Q: Can I receive the vaccine if I have a severe penicillin allergy?

Yes. There is no cross-reactivity between the penicillin antibiotics or any other antibiotics and the vaccine.

Q: The UK recently reported cases of severe allergy reaction after vaccine administration. What happened?

Two healthcare workers in the UK experienced a severe allergy reaction the day after receiving the vaccine. Both healthcare workers have a history of severe allergy reactions and both carry an Epi Pen. We are asking everybody who has a history of severe allergic reactions to stay in the post-vaccine waiting area for 15 minutes after the vaccine and to inform our staff immediately if there are any symptoms that you are worried about. Even if you do not have a history of severe allergic reactions, we are encouraging all recipients of the vaccine to consider waiting in the post-vaccine area as a standard precaution that we do for all vaccines.

Q: What are the ingredients in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?

These vaccines have a simple formulation and contain few ingredients.

Pfizer vaccine:

· mRNA: nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2

· Lipids: forms the nanoparticle that protects the mRNA until it gets into our cells

· Salts: potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate. Helps keep the pH, or the acidity, of the vaccine similar to that of our bodies

· Sugar: sucrose. Increases temperature stability of the vaccine

Moderna vaccine:

· mRNA: nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2

· Lipids: forms the nanoparticle that protects the mRNA until it gets into our cells

· Salt: sodium acetate. Helps keep the pH, or the acidity, of the vaccine similar to that of our bodies

· Buffer: trisaminomethane. A commonly used ingredient that helps keep the pH, or the acidity, of the vaccine similar to that of our bodies

· Sugar: sucrose. Increases temperature stability of the vaccine

Q: If I have an egg allergy can I get the vaccine?

The initial vaccines that are likely to be approved are not manufactured using eggs, so can be received by those with egg allergies.

Q: Would you suggest preventive acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory (for example, ibuprofen) prior to vaccine administration?

No. In the clinical trials, these medications were not allowed prior to vaccination as they have the ability to lessen the immune response to the vaccine.

Q: Is it recommended to administer the COVID vaccine to any person who has received the flu shot this season?

Yes, everyone who received the you can get the COVID vaccine if you’ve had the flu shot.

Q: Will Denver Health get access to a vaccine that is not based on mRNA technology?

Right now the first vaccines seeking approval are mRNA based. There are other non-mRNA-based vaccines, but we do not have an estimate of when they will be available.

Q: Can they guarantee no tissue damage with vaccine administration in relation to the subzero temperature of the vaccine?

This vaccine will be brought to normal refrigeration temperature prior to administration. While the long-term storage needs of this vaccine vary from those we normally administer, once the vaccine is brought to normal temperature range and reconstituted, the administration process is the same as other vaccines.

Q: Do we know how long the vaccine is effective for? Will we have to get it every 6 months or every year?

The vaccine trials have demonstrated effectiveness through 6 months. They will continue to have more information on this and we will make that information available to all staff.

Q. What do I need to know about the new strain of coronavirus that has recently been found in Colorado?
For the past several weeks, health authorities in the United Kingdom (UK) have been concerned about a strain of coronavirus that has several mutations that may allow it to spread more easily from person to person. As of December 30th, this strain has been identified in two individuals in Colorado. Neither of these individuals had traveled to or had contact with anyone from the UK. Thus, it is likely that this strain is circulating in Colorado and across the United States as well. Fortunately, there is no evidence that this strain causes a more severe COVID-19 illness, nor any current concern that the vaccine will not work just as well against this strain. For now, the most important actions we can take are those we already do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities including wearing a mask, limiting contact with others and maintaining physical distancing.

To ask questions not found on the FAQ, please email COVID_Vaccine@dhha.org.

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