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Recommendations for Industry

COVID-19 Post-Vaccination Symptom Protocols

Q. With some people having viral symptoms following a COVID-19 vaccination, how do we know if the person has the virus or is reacting to the vaccine? And when should they return to work?

A. Because we cannot differentiate between a vaccine reaction and the actual disease, TAG recommends that businesses take a cautious approach, assuming the symptoms are COVID based, for the protection of other employees and the business as a whole. That is:

  • Any employee who has symptoms associated with COVID-19 should stay home for 10 days following system onset even if the employee was recently vaccinated and suspects that the symptoms are due to the vaccine.
  • If symptoms following a vaccination resolve sooner without the aid of medication, the employee can return to work sooner if a COVID-19 PCR test is taken and returns negative.
  • Other employees who experience COVID-19 symptoms but were not recently vaccinated may return to work when symptoms have resolved for 24 hours if it is at least 10 days post symptom onset or they have a negative test/medical assessment.

Additionally, because there may be some operational impact if a high percentage of your employees would have post-vaccination symptoms, TAG recommends that employee vaccinations be staggered as much as possible.

The country overall is doing very well in reducing cases, but we are not out of woods when it comes to the variants – and, given that community case rates are still relatively high in many parts of the US,  bringing back symptomatic people who may, indeed, have the virus can increase the risk of workplace transmission. As vaccination rates continue to increase, we expect to see a slow and steady reduction in the national case rate.  Right now, we are in a period of this pandemic where more infectious variants are becoming the predominant strains while vaccination rates (and some natural immunity from previous infections) are increasing.  We are closely watching for rapid surges in cases over the next month that could signal the impact of these new (B.1.17, B.1.153, P.1, and others) emerging variants.

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