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Vaccines & Immunizations

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Does your industry require that you get a vaccination before you’re qualified to work? If you work with vulnerable populations, such as in a medical facility, school or senior care center, you may be required to have an immunization check to confirm that you’re up to date with your vaccines. Learn about the most recommended vaccines and which jobs require which vaccine. Health Street offers vaccinations for healthcare workers and others in sensitive positions that require them. Various industries and regulatory bodies set standards for immunizations.

Who Needs to Get a Vaccine?

Everyone who works around other people should be fully immunized—regardless of their industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a safe dosage of various vaccines [LINK] that are spaced out between birth and 18 years of age, administered at appropriate times. Many vaccines will require a second shot or booster dose for maximum effectiveness. A vaccine can save lives and prevent the spread of treatable diseases.

What Situations and Industries Require Immunization?

Industries that require proof of immunization as part of a pre-employment operational health screening include schools, healthcare facilities, senior residential facilities, and daycare centers. Anyone who works with vulnerable people such as children, elderly, or those who are sick, must get annual employee health checkups that include titer tests to see if they are immune to infectious diseases. When needed, a titer is followed by an immunization. Occupations that require vaccines for employee health include nursing home staff, hospital workers, home health care aides, teachers, and professors.

Complying with an industry’s vaccination requirements ensures that the company’s employees will not contract illnesses from colleagues or patients. It also ensures that they won’t transmit those diseases through personal contact or by handling materials that may contain or spread infections. Those with compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable, so their caretakers must be fully vaccinated.

Public Health Service Act

In the U.S., the Public Health Services Act authorizes the United States Surgeon General, with the support of the Department of Health and Human Services, to help states “in the prevention and suppression of communicable diseases.” This law clarifies which workers must submit proof of their immunization status.

Deciding Whether to Require Employee Immunization

While this is a clear choice in the education and healthcare sectors, requiring immunization may not be as straightforward for other industries. For example, a measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2015 caused the company to institute a policy that mandated their employees to provide evidence of immunity before they could return to work.

What does the law say? Any workplace may ask employees to prove they are immune to infectious diseases, and if not, they can ask them to get a vaccine. However, the employer cannot discriminate against workers who are unable to get a vaccination for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. In certain cases, this can be open to interpretation. The legal regulations regarding adult immunizations were addressed during a measles outbreak in New York, and the coronavirus pandemic has brought the subject of mandated vaccines once again to the forefront.

COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

As employers struggle with whether they will require their employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before starting or resuming on-site work, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided COVID-19 guidelines for employers that explain how companies should balance their COVID-19 vaccination mandate that is in the interest of public safety with anti-discriminatory legal protection for their employees.

How Does Someone Know If They Need a Vaccine?

Instead of relying on outdated immunization records to confirm current immunity, a simple antibody blood test can be used. If the blood test indicates that the individual is immune, they can safely work around others. If there are not enough antibodies present in the blood to provide protection, then the person should get a vaccine.

In antibody testing, a non-invasive blood test known as a Titer test determines if a person is immune. By first administering an antibody test, school administrators and HR departments can ensure that students, applicants, and employees are immunized without the risk of over-vaccinating people when they don’t need a vaccine or booster dose. This also saves money.

Should Employers Offer Antibody Tests and Vaccines to Their Employees?

HR Professionals and workplace managers should understand why it’s so important to have an antibody testing and vaccine program, to ensure that their staff is fully immunized to contagious diseases.

Confirmed immunity throughout the work environment:

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Protects employees from potential illness and promotes overall health and wellbeing.
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Reduces the chance of an outbreak and minimizes lost productivity.
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Protects vulnerable people who interact with the staff.
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Protects the company from liability issues.

Most Common Vaccine Recommendations for Employment

To be efficient and cost-effective, companies will screen for immunity to diseases that are highly transmissible, can be prevented by vaccine, and are easy to test for antibodies.

Hepatitis

This antibody blood test checks immunity for various types of hepatitis, including Hep A, Hep B, and Hep C. This antibody test also checks if the worker is an asymptomatic carrier of Hepatitis B, which isn’t uncommon. If the person has received a Hepatitis B vaccine dose within the past two months, this test can confirm their immunity.

MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)

An MMR titer accurately determines if the individual is immune to measles, mumps, and rubella. If it returns negative (not immune), then an MMR vaccine is required. In some cases, they may require a second dose, which should be administered four weeks after the first dose. One to two months after the person has had the vaccine, another antibody screening will ensure that they’ve produced the protective antibodies.

Varicella

More commonly known as chickenpox, varicella is a disease that older individuals may think they’re immune to since they had it as a child. Those who were born after 1995 may have received the two-dose varicella vaccine. To ensure that someone is still immune, employers can order a varicella antibody test. Non-immune adults can receive the varicella vaccine.

TDAP

The TDAP vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Although young children may receive up to five doses of DTap, a similar vaccine, their first TDAP vaccine is usually given when they’re 11-12 years old. The CDC recommends additional TDAP vaccines every 10 years. It is critical that people who work with children stay current with their TDAP vaccines, since kids are at high risk for exposure to these diseases.

Expectant mothers often receive a TDAP vaccine at the start of their third trimester. This prevents their newborn from developing whooping cough.

People who are burned or cut are at high risk of developing tetanus. This is especially true if rusty metal pierces the skin, such as stepping on a nail. Construction workers and those who handle heavy materials should be tested to make sure they’re protected. A tetanus shot is quick and easy.

What Are the Recommended Vaccines for Work?

For healthcare workers, recommended immunizations include Hepatitis B, Influenza, MMR, Varicella, TDAP, and Meningococcal. They define healthcare workers as doctors and nurses, medical personnel, dental professionals, medical and nursing students, lab technicians, pharmacists, hospital volunteers, and administrative staff.

Which Vaccine Screens Do Employers Require?

It depends on the industry. The vaccines most often required by employers are for Hepatitis, TDAP, MMR and Varicella. For those who work with vulnerable populations like children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems, there may be further requirements.

Health Street’s Health Care Services

Antibody Tests and Vaccines

Health Street is your premiere resource for occupational health services, including antibody tests and vaccines. We offer safe and secure health screenings and immunizations at our more than 14,000 nationwide clinics. We can also help you develop an immunization program for your workplace.

Citations

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“Immunization Schedules – For Parents and Adults.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/parents-adults/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fvaccines%2Fschedules%2Feasy-to-read%2Findex.html
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Hughes, Richard. “Vaccine Exemptions And The Federal Government’s Role.” Health Affairs, 21 March 2019, https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20190318.382995/full/
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Arnold, Michael. “Can employers require their employees to be vaccinated?” Biz Journals, 5 February 2015, https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/human-resources/2015/02/can-employers-require-their-employees-to-be.html
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Dembosky, April. “Can Employers Require Workers To Be Vaccinated? It Depends.” NPR, 10 February 2015, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/02/10/385138804/can-employers-require-workers-to-be-vaccinated-it-depends
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“Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: Chickenpox/Varicella Vaccination.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/varicella/index.html
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“Vaccine Information Statements (VISs): Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) VIS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/tdap.html
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“Vaccine Information for Adults: Keeping Your Vaccine Records Up to Date.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/vaccination-records.html
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“Hepatitis B: Post-Vaccination Test for Immunity.” HealthLinkBC, https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/uf1200
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“Legal Authority: Public Health Service Act.” Public Health Emergency, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/authority/Pages/default.aspx
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“What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws
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“Recommended Vaccines for Healthcare Workers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/hcw.html