BJC Healthcare is now distributing COVID-19 vaccines to employees of BJC and Washington University School of Medicine who interact with patients.
Distribution will be ordered by age, as recommended by the CDC, because older people are much more likely to have severe illness if they are infected. With more vaccines now available, BJC is accelerating vaccine deployment to all employees. Notifications will arrive by email.
Vaccine Town Halls
The School of Medicine has held three town halls about the COVID-19 vaccines FDA- approved for emergency use. Sessions held Dec. 9 and 21 for employees and students covered efficacy, safety and the Medical Campus vaccination plan. A session for community physicians covered guidance on answering patients’ questions and usage in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Vaccinations began on the Medical Campus on December 17, following School of Medicine/BJC HealthCare distribution plans that have been in development since October in coordination with state and local health departments.
Decisions about who will receive the vaccine, and when, are made by U.S. and state public health agencies, with a goal of providing the vaccine first to those believed to be at highest risk of exposure and severe illness. It will likely be several months before the vaccine is available to the general public.
BJC has priority access to vaccines for health-care workers and is able to offer you the opportunity to be vaccinated. Vaccines will arrive in shipments over the course of many months. Everybody will eventually have the opportunity to be vaccinated.
The first round has been prioritized for patient-facing personnel. BJC and the School of Medicine have identified “patient-facing” as all personnel with prolonged patient interaction, including clinical staff and nonclinical staff such as environmental services, food services, patient access, public safety, etc.
After careful review of our employee population and to ensure equitable access, BJC is scheduling vaccines in waves organized by age. Eligible employees have started receiving emails with information on vaccine event times and locations, and with instructions on how to schedule their vaccination appointment. A succession of emails will continue to be distributed until everyone has had an opportunity to schedule their vaccination.
The first wave of appointments targeted patient-facing personnel ages 50 and older, shortly followed by those 40 and older, because people in such age groups are at highest risk of severe illness or complications from COVID-19 infection. Evidence shows that risk for severe illness and death from the illness declines substantially in the younger-adult group, ages 16-39.
The current round of vaccination invitations are going to patient-facing personnel under the age of 40 who are identified to have prolonged exposure to COVID-19 patients. Identifying eligible personnel by COVID-concentrated areas is a manual process. Leaders have worked as quickly as possible to organize the names and provide them to the BJC/WUSM vaccine planning team for the next wave of scheduling invites. We appreciate your patience following the announcement of this prioritization process.
Vaccination volunteers needed
Volunteers are needed at vaccination sites to fill many openings for clinical and non-clinical roles (patient check-in, data entry, second-dose scheduling). Please sign up using the online Vaccine Volunteer Registration Form.
Thank you to the hundreds of employees who have already volunteered!
Scheduling your vaccination
All vaccinations continue to be by appointment only. Eligible employees will receive emails from BJC_COVIDVaccine@bjc.org with details, including instructions on how to schedule a vaccination appointment.
- You will be notified by email as soon as you are eligible to schedule your vaccine. Do not call to schedule an appointment until you receive an email. You will not be able to receive the vaccine before receiving the email.
- Please do not forward your appointment link. Email invitations are based on each recipient’s specific job role and age.
- The mailbox itself is not monitored, so please do not reply directly to the email address.
- If you believe you should have received an email and have not, please first check your spam or junk email folders. If you don’t find one there, notify your manager, who can work through the Incident Command Center to obtain a scheduling link.
- If you do not have email, you will receive notification from your supervisor.
Employees will continue to receive updates as the vaccine rollout continues.
Haven’t scheduled your vaccine appointment yet?
Patient-facing personnel who intend to be vaccinated but have not yet scheduled an appointment are strongly encouraged to do so, in preparation for the next phase of vaccination scheduling in alignment with state guidelines. It’s important that you’ve had an opportunity to receive the vaccine before vaccination becomes available to the next wave of recipients in the groups outlined by state health departments.
While BJC expects to have some ongoing inventory, supply could become less predictable or more limited once the first wave of patient-facing caregiver vaccinations is complete, which is projected to happen by January 31.
Add a “COVID-19 Vaccinated!” frame to your Facebook profile photo
Washington University “COVID-19 Vaccinated!” Facebook profile photo frames are now available. Visit Facebook and search “WUSTL vaccine” to add the design to your profile.
- First- and second-round vaccinations: EPNEC
- First-round vaccinations (beginning Jan. 5): BJC Institute of Health at Washington University, Planning, Design and Construction offices, second floor.
- Appointments from 6 a.m.–1 p.m. Mondays and Fridays; 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays,
Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- Appointments from 6 a.m.–1 p.m. Mondays and Fridays; 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays,
Share your vaccination story!
Share your vaccination experience on social media with the hashtag #WashUMyBestShot.
Signs for social media are available in Box (sign-in required).
As of Jan. 7, 2021, vaccine appointment invitations had been completed for all patient-facing team members. As of Jan. 6, BJC HealthCare and Washington University School of Medicine had sent more than 41,300 vaccination emails to patient-facing personnel and have administered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to more than 22,000 patient-facing personnel across both institutions. Second-dose appointments are also now under way.
BJC has received further assurances from the manufacturer of continuing availability of the vaccine, and BJC/WUSM have secured additional staff to be able to vaccinate more employees each day.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on December 11. The FDA gave emergency use authorization for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on December 18.
Additional vaccines are still under FDA review. This is a process the federal government uses during an emergency to authorize use of a vaccine, drug or medical device that is not yet licensed or that is licensed for a different purpose. Such treatments must undergo extensive testing and safety evaluation to receive an EUA.
Safety and effectiveness
Clinical trial data from both Pfizer and Moderna show an estimated 95% and 94.5% effective rate for these initial vaccines, respectively. The vaccine is the best defense against the virus and is an important step toward eradicating community spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA have a thorough and scientific process to evaluate vaccine safety before granting emergency use authorization. The clinical trials do show possible side effects that can include fever and body aches. BJC HealthCare and Washington University Physicians provide a fact sheet with basic information about the vaccines.
Whether to be vaccinated
While receiving a vaccine is voluntary at this time, this is a valuable early opportunity and we encourage you to take advantage of this access. Talk to your provider if you have questions regarding your personal health situation.
WashU leadership is in close contact with state and federal health authorities as well as the St. Louis Regional Pandemic Task Force and will share updates as new information is available. In the meantime, it is critical to remain vigilant with safety measures to protect against infection. It will be many months before the community reaches a vaccination rate that will enable us to safely begin relaxing those measures. Now, more than ever, with hope on the distant horizon, please stay focused on safety:
- Continue to wear masks when you leave your home or when you cannot maintain six feet of space from others
- Remember to practice physical distancing
- Wash hands frequently
- Avoid crowds and stay home unless fulfilling essential needs like work, school, shopping and medical care
Any paid or unpaid individual performing work within a BJC hospital or other BJC/WU facility who has direct interactions with patients, works in a patient care area or has potential exposure to infectious materials from patients. Credentialed providers should be currently directly seeing patients within a BJC hospital or BJC/WU facility or scheduled to provide patient care within the next 6 months. These HCP may include, but are not limited to nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, students and trainees, contractual staff not employed by the health care facility, and persons (e.g., patient access/registration, screeners, valets, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, maintenance, engineering and facilities management, clinical research staff) not directly involved in patient care but interacting with patients or potentially exposed to infectious materials from patients. Does not include staff working remotely.
Explaining the vaccine to patients
The Faculty Practice Plan provides talking points and a recorded virtual town hall to help health-care providers, including community physicians, answer questions from patients, visitors and other guests about COVID-19 vaccination. These resources cover initial rollout timeframe and availability as well as vaccine safety and patient care protocols.