Talking Points for Community Health Workers

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Community health workers are valuable sources of comfort and support for their communities during times of distress, including the growing presence of COVID-19 in different parts of the country. You have the ability to speak on concerns, fears, and anxieties regarding COVID-19.

Suggestion: Reiterate the importance of essential workers for their families and communities. They need to stay healthy because they provide for their families and fulfill a crucial role in their communities. If they get COVID-19, they will have to stop working.

Vaccine readiness/confidence

covid-19 Vaccine

Safety

  • The vaccines are safe.
  • The vaccines can’t give you COVID-19.
  • Hundreds of millions of people in the United States have safely received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.
  • Providers can give patients COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.

Effectiveness

All available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19.

To get the most protection, you need to stay up to date with your COVID vaccines. That means getting your initial doses and boosters when the time comes.

People with compromised immune systems are less able to fight infections and may need additional doses.

Emergency approval

The FDA carefully reviewed the study data and authorized the vaccines because the expected benefits outweigh potential risks.

Guaranteed immunity?

  • After vaccination, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • It’s important to understand that infection doesn’t necessarily lead to illness. If you’re up to date with your COVID vaccines and the virus manages to enter your body and begins to multiply—that is, infect you—your immune system will be prepared to quickly recognize the virus and will work to keep it from doing real harm. That’s why most people who get infected with COVID-19 despite being vaccinated—so-called breakthrough cases—have no symptoms (asymptomatic) or only mild-to-moderate illness. Nearly everyone in the United States who is getting severely ill, needing hospitalization, and dying from COVID-19 is unvaccinated.
  • To maximize protection from highly contagious variants and prevent possibly spreading COVID to others,

    both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear a well-fitting mask inside public places when the COVID risk to your community is high.

  • If you’re at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID, you can also protect yourself by:
    • Keeping at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you.
    • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
    • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you don’t have soap and water.
  • If you get COVID-19, there can be long-term health issues after recovery, which is one of the reasons the vaccine is so important.
  • We don’t know if getting COVID-19 will protect you from getting it again or how long that protection lasts.

Side effects

  • You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects.
  • Serious health effects from vaccines are very rare. It’s highly unlikely that COVID-19 vaccines will cause long-term health problems. Also, there is no evidence at all that they will cause infertility or cancer.
  • Your risk for serious health problems is much lower from the vaccine than your risk if you’re unvaccinated and get COVID-19. COVID-19 can leave you with heart and lung damage and other conditions that require long-term treatment. Vaccines are much safer paths to immunity than the disease itself.

Availability, cost, and immigration status

talking points
  • Everyone ages 6 months and older in the United States should get a COVID-19 vaccine. You have three ways to find vaccines near you:
    • Go to vaccines.gov
    • Text your ZIP code to 438829
    • Call 1-800-232-0233
  • The vaccines are free of charge to everyone living in the United States, regardless of immigration or health insurance status.
  • Receiving the vaccine will not negatively impact your immigration status.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has clarified that vaccines are available to all individuals regardless of immigration status and that enforcement activities won’t be conducted at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has specified that it won’t consider testing, treatment, or preventive care, including vaccines, related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination.

Getting through your workday safely until you’re up to date with your COVID vaccines 

  • Maintain at least 6 feet between coworkers and customers as much as possible with the understanding that you are taking care of them and yourself and not trying to be rude or disrespectful.
  • Eat lunch alone or at a distance from coworkers when possible.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth inside the workplace when the COVID risk to your community is high.

What to do if a coworker tests positive for COVID-19

  • Tell your coworker to notify your employer as soon as possible. They will then coordinate with local health officials who are trained on the best practices to follow.
  • This might mean a change in shifts, schedules, and employees’ working responsibilities to keep everyone safe.