As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to accelerate, vaccine requirements are becoming increasingly common. Whether workplaces are reopening or never shut down, many are instituting rules mandating vaccinations or requiring regular testing for COVID-19. Meanwhile, new federal requirements for vaccinations will cover as many as 100 million people.
Public-facing venues are also putting precautions into place. Restaurants are asking patrons to show proof of vaccination to be seated indoors, and entertainment venues are taking action to protect audience and performers.
Managing COVID-19 vaccine mandates
Instituting vaccine requirements can be complex, and without proper education, they can be confusing for employees. Here are some ways employers can ease the transition for their organization and their employees:
- Consider hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, either onsite or at a local retail pharmacy. A well-managed clinic should include detailed vaccination reporting and offer materials to encourage people to get vaccinated.
- While each vaccinated American receives a 4-by-3-inch vaccination card showing their protected status, these flimsy pieces of paper can be lost, stolen or counterfeited. SMART Health Cards, which are now coming to market, provide a way to carry and prove vaccination status in an easy-to-use digital format. The Express Scripts app now includes access to a SMART Health Card with an individualized QR code that can be used to demonstrate proof of vaccination. This functionality is automatically available to any Express Scripts member who received their vaccination at a pharmacy.
In light of breakthrough cases from the Delta variant – and with other variants beginning to emerge – employers should keep in mind the advice we’ve been following since the beginning of the pandemic:
- Encourage mask-wearing and social distancing.
- Offer a hybrid worksite schedule, with a mix of remote and in-person work, to minimize capacity in offices.
- Stay up to speed on COVID-19, vaccines and related issues. Dr. Cynthia Zelis, chief medical officer for MDLIVE, provides information of special interest to employers and plan sponsors in the Clinically Speaking video series.
Speeding up the information superhighway
The inability of a patient’s health data to move seamlessly and securely – known as interoperability – is one of the nation’s biggest health care challenges, and the need to prove COVID-19 vaccination status makes finding a solution even more urgent.
The average patient’s health data is scattered among numerous providers and payers. Hospitals, doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies and insurance companies all have their own systems. Patients don’t own or control their information, and accessing it can be difficult. Sending data from one provider to another, or from a provider to a school, for example, can be time consuming for a patient or parent and for the provider’s office.
At Evernorth, we’re tackling this challenge head on, using industry standard application programming interfaces to create true Health Information Interoperability (HI2). By utilizing our vast and deep Intelligence+ capabilities, we are working to give providers, patients and clients timely, secure access to – and bi-directional exchange of – the electronic health data we maintain.
For this reason, Evernorth helped spearhead the Vaccination Credential Initiative. Along with a broad coalition of public and private partners, we’re creating a safe, secure, interoperable and privacy-preserving way for Americans to easily access a verifiable, digital record of their vaccine via a SMART Health Card.