Now that a major portion of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, many of the established safeguards followed during the pandemic for the past 15 months or longer are evolving.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to identify COVID-19 exposure risks to workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk, and to help them take appropriate steps to prevent exposure and infection.
Many employers have established COVID-19 prevention programs that include a number of important steps to keep unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers safe. These COVID-19 prevention programs include measures such as telework and flexible schedules, enhanced cleaning programs with a focus on high-touch surfaces, engineering controls (e.g., ventilation), administrative policies (e.g., vaccination policies), personal protective equipment (PPE), face coverings, and physical distancing. Ask your employer about plans in your workplace.
In addition, employees with disabilities who are at-risk may request reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
CDC’s Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People explain that under most circumstances, fully vaccinated people need not take all the precautions that unvaccinated people should take.
For example, CDC advises that most fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks or more after they have completed their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the United States.
However, CDC suggests that people who are fully vaccinated but still at-risk due to immunocompromising conditions should discuss the need for additional protections with their healthcare providers. CDC continues to recommend precautions for workers in certain transportation settings.
COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at keeping Americans from getting COVID-19. Those who are not yet fully vaccinated, or are otherwise at risk, optimum protection is provided by using multiple layers of other interventions that prevent exposure and infection.
COVID-19 spreads mainly among unvaccinated people who are in close contact with one another especially in poorly ventilated spaces.
Vaccination is the key in a multi-layered approach to protect workers. Learn about and take advantage of opportunities that your employer may provide to take time off to get vaccinated. Vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against symptomatic and severe COVID-19 illness.According to the CDC, a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have symptomatic infection or transmit the virus to others. See the CDC’s Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People.
Those who are unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk (e.g., because of a prior transplant or other medical condition) should follow recommended precautions and policies at your workplace.