CHT Covid-19 Updates for Staff
COVID-19 UPDATE: staff vaccination update
Dear CHT staff member,
Following the Government’s recent announcement regarding the nationwide Pfizer vaccine roll out programme, I am getting in touch with you as I am sure you will be eager to know our plans as an organisation.
The elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society, so protecting the health and safety of our residents is extremely important, as is protecting our staff and wider communities. People over 65 years old, and workers within the healthcare workforce, are amongst the first groups to be able to receive the Pfizer vaccine and are being strongly encouraged to do so.
Vaccination is a personal choice, and we want to ensure you have as much credible, reliable information as possible in order to make your decision. Below are listed some very helpful authorised resources which I encourage you to explore:
o COVID-19 vaccine overview – Immunisation Advisory Centre
o How the vaccine works
o What to expect when getting vaccinated
o Vaccine safety and side effects
o 10 Common Misconceptions around the COVID-19 vaccines
We are working closely with local health authorities to determine how and when we will be vaccinating our residents and staff, and I will be back in touch with you again once we have those details finalised.
There is also a helpful ‘frequently asked questions’ document on our website just for staff, so please take a look if you have any further questions at this stage, otherwise feel free to discuss with your Manager.
STAFF FAQ: COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLOUT
1. Will CHT staff be required to have the vaccine?
It is highly desirable that all staff are vaccinated so that we can reduce the risk of COVID-19 within our facilities.
All new staff will be screened, as part of the pre-employment process, as to whether they have been vaccinated or not. Vaccination will become a highly desirable pre-condition of employment for all new staff. All staff will be required to wear PPE when there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the community.
2. Will residents be required to have the vaccine?
Vaccination is the choice of each individual resident and their family, however it is highly recommended that all residents are vaccinated so that we can reduce the risk of COVID-19 within our facilities. Elderly populations have also been shown to be one of the most vulnerable sections of society so we want to ensure our resident population is protected from COVID-19.
We will be updating our admission agreement to include a section on COVID-19 vaccination.
3. Will our contractors be required to have the vaccine?
It is highly desirable that all our contractors are vaccinated so that we can reduce the risk of COVID-19 within our facilities. We are working with our contractors to ensure they have a vaccination plan for their employees.
4. Who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
People under the age of 16 are not included for now. There’s limited data available for this age group as they weren’t part of the clinical trials. You should get advice from your specialist if you are receiving cancer treatment.
5. Is it possible to choose to be vaccinated at a later time, rather than within the national rollout period?
We are not clear about this and will be waiting for advice from the Ministry of Health. We will be strongly recommending that everyone who wants to be vaccinated is vaccinated within the national rollout period.
6. Is the vaccine safe?
Yes, according to information available. There’s never been this level of global collaboration amongst scientists and governments in vaccine development – and that has improved the speed of its development and the launch of clinical trials around the world.
We are moving swiftly but without taking any short cuts or compromising safety.
7. What are the potential side effects of the Pfizer vaccine?
Like all medicines, the vaccine may cause side effects in some people. These are common, are usually mild and don’t last long. They won’t stop you from having the second dose or going about your daily life.
The most common reported reactions are:
• pain at the injection site
• a headache
• feeling tired or fatigued
• muscle aches
• feeling generally unwell
• joint pain
Serious reactions are very rare.
8. How is the vaccine given?
The vaccine is given via an injection in the upper arm. Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are required, three weeks apart. It’s very important you get your second dose, you have your best protection once you have both doses. Vaccination staff will observe you for 30 minutes after your injection.
9. Who will give the vaccines?
Each DHB is planning the roll out of the vaccine for their region. At this stage it appears that staff contracted to the DHB who have been trained in vaccinating will be administering the vaccines to CHT staff.
It is still being determined who will give the vaccines to residents. This may be done by our own staff who have been trained to give vaccinations or through the GP or pharmacy. We will confirm details once we have further information.
10. Is the COVID-19 vaccine free?
Yes it is free. The full cost of the vaccine is funded by the Ministry of Health.
11. Will I have a choice of which vaccine I receive?
Not right now. The four vaccines New Zealand has secured are going through the approval process at different times. The Pfizer vaccine is the only current vaccine that has been approved by Medsafe as being safe and effective for use in New Zealand at this time.
12. How does the Pfizer vaccine work?
Vaccines work by teaching the body’s immune system to respond quickly to infection without being exposed to the infection itself. Traditionally, most vaccines work by introducing modified versions, or bits of the virus, to the immune system, prompting the body’s immune system to respond by making protective antibodies so that when you come across the real infection your body is prepared to fight it off.
The Pfizer vaccine uses a different approach. This is known as a ‘messenger RNA’ vaccine. This vaccine doesn’t use virus cells at all – instead it contains a piece of RNA code that essentially teaches your body to recognise the virus, so it can respond straight away if you get infected.
13. Is the vaccine effective against new strains of the virus?
The Ministry of Health is evaluating preliminary data from other countries about the impact new strains may have on vaccine effectiveness. Some companies have indicated they may make changes to the vaccine to ensure they work properly – this is similar to the regular changes made to the influenza vaccine.
14. Does the vaccine prevent me from transmitting the virus to others?
We don’t know at this stage. We do know that being vaccinated does not remove the need for PPE, regular testing and continuing with other infection control precautions.
15. Can I have the vaccine if I am pregnant?
Yes. Women who are pregnant and at risk of exposure to the virus can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of pregnancy. For those at low risk of exposure, it is recommended to delay vaccination until after birth.
16. Can I get the vaccine if I am breastfeeding?
Yes. If you are breastfeeding you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. There are no safety concerns for a breast-feeding woman or her infant associated with having this COVID-19 vaccine.
17. Will I need to have a COVID-19 vaccine each year as I do with the ‘flu vaccine?
We are waiting on advice from the Ministry of Health about this and will let you know.
18. Can I be at work if I have only had my first dose or do I need to wait until I have had both doses?
You may return to work following your first dose.
19. How long will I be protected after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
The clinical trials performed on the Pfizer vaccine show it’s approximately 95% effective against symptomatic COVID-19, seven days after receiving two doses.
We don’t yet know how long you’ll be protected for or if it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. Research has shown that immunity following natural infection remains for at least eight months and we have every expectation the vaccine immunity will be even longer.
20. When will I find out more about the details of getting vaccinated?
Detailed information on vaccination locations, when you are likely to get your vaccination and how to arrange your vaccination will be finalised soon and we will let you know.
21. Do I need to be vigilant about hygiene after I’m vaccinated?
It is also an important reminder that the vaccines are not a substitute for good hygiene practices of washing hands, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, wearing masks or face coverings and other precautions, including PPE.
22. Will there be a record of which staff and residents have been vaccinated?
The Ministry of Health has set up a vaccination database to record who has been vaccinated. CHT will be recording this information in its HR system for staff and in VCare for residents.
23. Will CHT be allowing visitors to come into the facilities if they have not been vaccinated?
All visitors to CHT facilities will be welcomed however it is strongly encouraged that visitors are vaccinated so that we can reduce the risk of COVID-19 amongst our residents, staff and communities. Elderly people are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, so keeping them safe and protected should be our collective priority.
We will be performing health checks on all our visitors, including those who have been vaccinated to ensure they are safe to enter the facility.
24. Will residents and families be told which staff members or other residents have been vaccinated and which haven’t?
To protect the privacy and personal decisions of our staff, this information will not be made publicly available or available on request.
25. Will residents, staff or family members who chose not to get vaccinated be required to provide a reason?
No they will not be required to give a reason however they will be advised of the risk they pose to other staff, residents and families by not getting vaccinated.
26. What exact precautions will CHT continue to take to protect residents and staff from COVID-19 alongside vaccinations?
We will continue our mandatory check-in process, health checks for visitors, vigilant infection control practices and the use of PPE when required.
27. What happens if a non-vaccinated person is carrying COVID-19 and unknowingly infects residents or staff?
This scenario is highly unlikely due to widespread vaccination and our own robust processes however we do have infection management plans in place should we be required to act swiftly.
Update: Alert Level Changes
Update: Alert Level Changes
Update: Full Lockdown
Update: Alert Level 1
Update: Level 2