We’ve reached a pivotal milestone in the fight against COVID-19: two FDA-approved vaccines are already in the arms of over twelve million Americans, with millions more to come. These vaccines are safe and effective. Rollout of COVID-19 vaccination is crucial to halting the spread of COVID-19. This brings us incredibly close to reaching the other side of this devastating pandemic.
As a Union, we defend our right to safe work. UFCW International and Locals across the country are fighting for essential frontline workers to be prioritized for vaccine access. We are calling on our employers to work closely with local Governors to get workers vaccinated as fast as possible. We will continue to advocate for our spot in line until every worker who wants a vaccination gets one.
It is important to know the facts about COVID-19 vaccination. Moderna and Pfizer were able to create their vaccines with amazing speed thanks to medical developments years in the making. These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people; your Primary Care Provider is the best person to ask if you are concerned about the vaccine being the right choice for you.
You should not be charged for the vaccine, but your healthcare provider may still charge a visit fee. Members with Local 555 insurance may call the Trust with any billing questions. All other members should call their insurance provider or county health authority for guidance.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared employers can require vaccinations in most cases. Employers must conduct an individualized risk-mitigation assessment with employees who cannot receive the vaccination due to a medical condition or sincerely-held religious beliefs. However, we have not been notified of any employers requiring a COVID-19 vaccination at the time of publication.
Here is the status of vaccine eligibility and accessibility in Oregon and Washington at the time of publication:
Healthcare workers and those who live or work in long-term care facilities are eligible for vaccination. Paid and unpaid caregivers of medically fragile persons who live at home are eligible. Disabled people and people with medical conditions who receive services in their home are also currently eligible.
People who work in a childcare, early learning, or K-12 school setting will be eligible January 25th. People aged 80 and up are expected to be eligible February 8th, with ages 65-75 becoming eligible in later waves.
The Vaccine Advisory Committee issued recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority to prioritize frontline workers who have not been included in previous phases. And we are in persistent conversations with Governor Brown and her staff to do everything we can to ensure that our members are moved swiftly up the lines however possible.
To find out when you are eligible and where to get vaccinated in Oregon, go to https://covidvaccine.oregon.gov/.
Like Oregon, Washington has included many healthcare workers and those who work or live in long-term care facilities in their first phases of vaccination eligibility. People 65 and older, as well as those 50 and up in multigenerational households are eligible in Washington.
The next phase is expected to include workers 50 and up who have a high risk of exposure due to a high volume of interaction with others, with encouragement to prioritize workers in high-density retail and grocery stores.
You can use Washington’s Phase Finder Tool to determine when you are eligible, and the Department of Health keeps a list of vaccine providers.
As vaccination rolls out, we must remain vigilant. Continue to wear a face mask and wash your hands. Assert your right to social distance. Call your rep if you have any concerns about safety at work. And stay strong. We will get through this, as always, together.