COVID-19 Vaccine |

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination

Updated March 11, 2021

    

This FAQ page is designed to help you answer questions that may arise surrounding the workplace and the COVID-19 vaccine. For questions related to the vaccine itself, see the CDC’s website for more information. For further related to COVID-19, please see our resources page. MMA has partnered with Health Action Alliance to offer additional resources, templates, and guides for employers to use. 

For Employers 


How can employers verify their employees are a part of a certain vaccine phase?

Pay close attention to the broad guidance given by the CDC and review phase requirements for your locality. Some local governments have a registration system where you receive notifications of vaccine eligibility.

What are the costs associated with the vaccine and who is responsible for covering them?

Most people that receive a vaccine will not see any cost. The vaccines are purchased by the Federal Government to distribute to the states (CMS guidance is approximately $45 for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines). Group health plans are required to cover vaccination without cost sharing to participants in both in-network and out-of-network settings. Once HHS rescinds the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Period, the requirement to cover vaccination without cost sharing in an out-of-network setting ends.

During the initial vaccination period, many participants will receive vaccination outside their group health plans and/or not submit them through the plan for reimbursement. In these instances, the participants may be subject to a point-of-access delivery fee. The vaccine itself is currently subsidized by the federal government, but providers may still charge administrative fees to deliver the vaccine which includes the cost of storage, supplies, and injection.

Does an employer-sponsored health plan affect employees’ ability to receive the vaccine in terms of access and cost?

Employer-sponsored health plan coverage has no effect on access. For now, access is determined solely based on a state’s delivery prioritization schedule (Class 1, 1B, 2, etc.). Group health plans are required to cover vaccination without cost sharing to participants in both in-network and out-of-network settings. Once HHS rescinds the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Period, the requirement to cover vaccination without cost sharing in an out-of-network setting ends.

During the initial vaccination period, many participants will receive vaccination outside their group health plans and/or not submit them through the plan for reimbursement. In these instances, the participants may be subject to a point-of-access delivery fee. The vaccine itself is currently subsidized by the federal government, but providers may still charge administrative fees to deliver the vaccine which includes the cost of storage, supplies, and injection.

Can employers legally mandate their employees to receive the vaccine?

Yes, although exceptions must be made for employees with sincerely held religious or disability-based objections. Depending upon the circumstances, workarounds may be available. Some employers may be subject to state or local mandates to require vaccination. Employers should closely evaluate their circumstances and consider the risk of workplace tension or disruption before mandating vaccination.

If an employee gets the vaccine through a mandate at work and experiences illness, can the employer be held responsible?

While this could become a workers’ compensation issue, it is unknown at this point whether that will be the case as guidance on this situation is still forthcoming.

Can employers distribute the vaccine at the workplace as they would an annual flu shot?

The few vendors that currently offer this service have mandated a minimum of 1,000 employees at one site (some as high as 3,000), have a 21-45 day time frame, charge significant consulting fees to handle the logistics, and most importantly, unlike flu campaigns, they do not provide the actual vaccine. Securing the vaccine is the responsibility of the employer, which may be one reason that this may not be a relatively viable option for MMA clients.

Can employers request proof of vaccination from their employees?

An employer may ask for and request proof of an employee's vaccination. The employer should remind employees to only provide evidence of the vaccine and not have it contain any confidential information, such as answers to pre-vaccination questionnaires. Another area of caution for the employer is to refrain from asking why an employee did not receive the vaccination. It may seem like a simple, benign question, but it also might reveal disability or medical-related information.

Can employers mandate some employees to get the vaccine and not others?

Present EEOC guidelines allow mandating the vaccine for only certain employees. The distinction must be based on different job criteria and not race, gender, or socioeconomic group. For example, if your organization does work in a warehouse where 50 percent of your employees are customer-facing and cannot work six feet apart, while a different area in that facility houses employees who have their own office or cubicle without contact with the public, a mandate only for the former group is allowed. Those two populations are distinctly different and objectively so, regardless of the type of individuals working within those departments. The employer could mandate the higher risk population to receive the vaccine while the lower risk population would voluntarily obtain the vaccine.

How are employers handling paid time off outside the normal allotment for employees to both get the vaccine and to account for potential side effects?

An employer can simply require employees to use PTO time to receive vaccination or to cope with side effects. Employers have the flexibility to offer additional PTO as an incentive for employees to vaccinate and can require proof of vaccination before treating the time as PTO. Employers have a lot of flexibility, although you might consider applying the same approach to all employees or at least all employees within an identifiable employment classification. To date we have not seen the granting of additional PTO time to account for potential side effects given that this may be vulnerable to abuse.

How should employers navigate vaccine mandates with contractors?

Employers should tread carefully with independent contractors. Anything that might be considered control of the independent contractor could alter the legal relationship between the employer and the contractors, especially in California.

Where can employers learn more specifics surrounding EEOC guidance for COVID-19 and vaccines?

You can visit their page here where you will find a number of frequently asked questions.

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For Individuals


Will I be required to get vaccinated to work in the U.S.?

Currently, the federal government does not require vaccination for individuals. For some healthcare workers or essential employees, a state, local government, or employer may require that workers be vaccinated. Check with your employer to see if they have any rules that apply to you.

Can I receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if I don’t have health insurance?

Yes, there are a variety of state and local distribution centers available to the general public at little or no cost.

What documentation do I need to provide to prove my eligibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Most vaccination venues just require a driver’s license and your registration form when you show up for the vaccine. An individual will likely have to answer a series of questions online (or other format) when they register, however once at the site of vaccination, most will just need to show ID and proof of registration.

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, most health care experts advise that you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. It is still unknown how long natural immunity lasts and there are some indications that antibody levels may increase with the administering of the vaccine.

Why is the vaccine not recommended for those under the age of 16? 

Additional studies are needed in order to recommend the vaccination for children younger than 16.

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