Upon entering phase 1B for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) staff became eligible to receive the vaccine. Demand for the vaccine currently exceeds supply and we do not know how quickly vaccines will become available as phase 1B consists of many people. In collaboration with the Howard County Health Department (HCHD), HCPSS will notify staff when they become eligible to register to receive their first dose of the vaccine. This will be done in four tiers, which consist of:
- School Nurses & Health Assistants who will receive their first dose as part of the training to become vaccine administrators. We are currently in this tier.
- Staff who have been working in person, including but not limited to custodians, Food & Nutrition Service workers, school-based administrators, and members of the operations and technology departments.
- All other school-based staff, including but not limited to teachers, paraeducators, substitute teachers, and contracted bus drivers and bus assistants.
- All other non-school-based staff.
The Health Department receives a limited and varying supply of the vaccine each week and is working through the designated groups of individuals in the community as quickly as possible. HCHD, who is managing the distribution of the vaccine, has provided additional understanding and guidance on what to do when you receive your email and registration link. All staff should be aware of the following information:
- When HCPSS is notified by HCHD that they have vaccines available for school system staff, eligible employees will be notified by email sent from email@example.com and a notification in their Workday account when their tier comes up. This email will contain a link to sign up for a vaccination appointment.
- Do not forward the link to anyone. Non-eligible sign-ups will slow down the entire vaccination process.
- Appointments will be granted on a “first come, first serve” basis as registration links are emailed. The link will be sent to all members of a tier, even if the number of staff is greater than the number of time slots available.
- If you are unable to register due to time slots being full, you will automatically be emailed a new link at a later date when additional vaccines become available. This process will continue until staff in the tier who want the vaccine have received it. At that point, HCPSS will proceed to the next tier.
- Even after you have set an appointment and been vaccinated, you may continue to receive additional emails while your tier continues. If that happens, you should ignore the additional email. Do not forward it to anyone else.
- We are required to use the state’s registration system, which requires you to complete the registration process prior to knowing if there are any remaining time slots. Understandably, this may be frustrating so patience is encouraged.
- The link you receive by email will be effective for only a single clinic day. Due to the way the state system works and the fact that vaccines have to be kept at a certain temperature, staff may not receive more than 24 hours notice of their scheduled appointment.
- Please be patient. HCPSS will email registration links as quickly as we receive them. Once you sign up for a designated date, you will not be able to change to another alternate date to fit your schedule. HCPSS will not receive definitive dates in advance on when distribution will occur.
- The website used for registration is called PrepMod and is not managed by HCPSS. The registration is a consent form and must be completed by the person being registered.
- The second dose of the Moderna vaccine is administered 28 days after the first and the Pfizer vaccine 21 days after the first. You will receive whichever of the two vaccines the Health Department has available at the time and will receive the same manufacturer's vaccine for your second dose.
- When signing up for your first vaccine, be sure that you will be available to go for the second vaccine as that appointment is not flexible.
- If you have known conflicts that correspond with the administration of your second vaccine, do not accept the first dose until you can make both appointments.
- Do not receive any other vaccine (e.g. flu) within 14 days of the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no data to determine how that may affect the efficacy of the vaccine.
- All HCPSS employees, regardless of the county in which you reside, are eligible to receive the vaccine from the Health Department once you receive the link. If you do not live in Maryland, select “Howard” as your county. There is no residency requirement relating to vaccinating HCPSS staff.
- You will receive a confirmation email indicating you have successfully registered and including the location, address, date and time of your appointment. If you do not receive a confirmation email, you are not registered.
- If you otherwise qualify based on other factors (e.g. age) to get the vaccine elsewhere sooner, please do so. In that case, you do not need to wait and you should ignore any emails sent to you by HCPSS for registration.
- Be sure that your building-level administrator or supervisor is aware of your appointment date and time and your plans for coverage while you are gone if necessary.
- You must make arrangements for childcare. Only those persons receiving the vaccine will be permitted in the building.
- On the day of your scheduled appointment, allow at least an hour in your schedule from your arrival time as there are several steps to the process, including at least a 15 minute observation period following vaccination.
- Scheduled time slots may interfere with working schedules. School and office administrators and managers are aware of this potential for conflict and will work with staff to coordinate coverage and leniency so staff who want the vaccine may receive it.
- Teachers should be prepared to have an asynchronous lesson ready for students during the time they are being vaccinated.
- Bring a government-issued photo ID (e.g. driver’s license) and proof of your employment (e.g. HCPSS ID) as it will be required for check in. If you do not have your HCPSS Photo ID badge, proof of employment can also be a recent pay stub or W2 printed from Workday. If you do not have an appropriate ID, you will not be vaccinated.
- Wear clothing that allows easy access to the upper arm. You must also wear an appropriate face covering that covers both your mouth and nose.
Following Your Appointment
- You will be required to remain at the vaccination facility for at least 15 minutes following your vaccination to ensure that you do not have an allergic reaction. Everybody has varying symptoms following their vaccination, from slight soreness at the injection spot to flu-like symptoms for a day or two. Be prepared for the possibility that you will not be able to work the day following your vaccination. If that happens, you will need to use appropriate leave (sick, personal or annual) to cover the absence.
- You will schedule your appointment for the second dose of the vaccine while in the waiting area and will not have the option to choose an alternative date.
- Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or have received other vaccinations recently should consult their healthcare provider or HCHD for medical advice relating to individual circumstances.
- If you are unable to make your appointment for any reason, you should cancel the appointment using the link in the email confirmation you received. You will not be able to reschedule your appointment using the link you received and must wait for the next link to be emailed to register.
- If you are in quarantine or isolation at the time of your appointment, stay home and cancel your appointment using the link in the email confirmation you received.
At this time, HCPSS does not mandate that staff be vaccinated prior to returning to buildings. Additionally, staff who have been vaccinated must continue to follow all CDC and HCPSS social distancing, masking and other requirements to help maintain a safe and healthy environment in our school communities.
Thank you for your continued patience as we work with the County and State to administer the vaccine to HCPSS staff as quickly as possible. This process will not happen as quickly as anybody would prefer but HCHD will administer the vaccine as quickly as they are receiving it.
Below are several resources that provide further understanding of the COVID-19 vaccine and other related information:
- COVID-19 Vaccine Facts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- COVID-19 Information and Resources, Maryland Department of Health (MDH)
- Maryland COVID-19 Dashboard, Maryland Department of Health (MDH)
- HCPSS COVID-19 Dashboard, Howard County Public School System (HCPSS)
- HCHD Vaccine FAQ and site, Howard County Health Department (HCHD)