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Please complete the COVID-19 Self Reporting Form within 24 hours of a positive COVID-19 test result, being tested, being symptomatic, or being notified that you (or the affected individual) are a primary contact. A primary contact is defined as contact with someone who was within 6 feet of a Covid positive person for 15 or more cumulative minutes within 48 hours of that person being symptomatic or before the test was taken, if asymptomatic. A secondary contact is someone who has been or is in contact with a primary contact.
Division Stages and Policies
For more information on COVID-19 Stages for the Division, mask usage, and additional guidelines, visit our Division COVID-19 page.
Communications and Resources
For more information on COVID-19 community resources, visit our Division Communications and Resources page.
On December 31, 2020, the additional leave programs provided in the federal Family First Coronavirus Recovery Act (FFCRA) ended. In support of employees in the continuing COVID-19 pandemic period, effective January 1, 2021, the Division will extend the opportunity for up to 80 total combined hours of paid leave for employees affected by COVID-19. The leave program is not a continuation of the FFCRA leave.
For such paid leave to be granted, the following requirements must be met:
- The employee must not have previously used 80 hours of COVID-19 leave as was provided by the FFCRA.
- Due to Coronavirus the employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order.
- The employee has been directed by the Department of Health or other health authority to quarantine due to Coronavirus.
- Due to Coronavirus the employee is subject to extended campus return-to-work guidelines (up to14 days rather than the seven and ten day options provided by the AR Department of Health).
- The employee is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee must provide care for their dependent child whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19.
- The employee must be unable to work from home due to illness or have a job in which working from home is not possible.
- The employee must provide appropriate physician, school, Department of Health or equivalent documentation supporting the leave utilization.
Employees who used a portion of the available FFCRA 80 hours in 2020 may use the remainder as COVID-19 leave in 2021 but in no case may use a combined total of more than 80 hours. Including leave previously used under FFCRA, COVID-19 leave is limited to no more than total of 80 hours for any combination of quarantine, illness or child care leave eligibility.
The 80-hour maximum will be prorated for less than full-time employees.
Employees using COVID-19 leave will be eligible to receive full pay but not to exceed $511 per day or approximately $133,000 annualized.
Whenever possible, work from home rather than paid or unpaid leave should be used.
Failure to provide appropriate documentation for COVID leave will result in recharacterization of the leave taken as sick, vacation or leave-without-pay within the established leave use guidelines. (Sick leave may not be used for child care purposes due to school closure.)
Qualified leave may be applied retroactively to January 1, 2021.
COVID-19 leave guidelines will be modified, suspended or ended as necessary to meet changing needs and regulations of the current pandemic environment.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a 2-dose administration, and the efficacy after the second dose is 95% (95% CI: 90.3%, 97.6%).
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only a single dose and was found to be 72% effective in the United States (66% effective overall).
The two COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States do not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex. For a full list of ingredients, please see each vaccine’s Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers:
All three of the vaccines had to go through the rigorous safety procedures and processes required for approval from the FDA. First, how well the vaccine works had to be tested during multiple phases of trials. Once the vaccine passes these initial trials, an independent group of vaccine experts reviews the safety of the vaccines based on these trials, the FDA’s experts review the same data, and finally, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews the data so that they can make a recommendation about which populations should be first to receive the vaccine. Usually this process takes months, and in some cases, years!
The importance of finding a working vaccine for COVID-19 was, and continues to be, so great that this process was sped up. However, this does not mean that steps were skipped, nor does it mean that the safety of these vaccines was jeopardized in any way. In fact, more scrutiny was given to these vaccines because the process needed to be sped up.
Both vaccines have been found by the FDA to be safe and effective, and no significant safety concerns were identified during the review. Both vaccines have been approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization.
Any of the three available vaccines are safe to receive. The only difference is that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for persons over the age of 16 and the Moderna and the J&J vaccine are approved for persons over the age of 18.
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines require two separate doses (two different shots). The time in between the first dose and the second dose differs for the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines. The recommendation for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is to wait three weeks (21 days) between the first and second doses. For the Moderna vaccine, the recommendation is to wait one month (28 days) between the first and second doses.
When the first dose is received, a healthcare provider, pharmacist, or other healthcare worker will schedule the next appointment to receive the second dose based on the timelines above.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single shot instead of two doses several days apart.
Don’t mix doses
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices highly recommends that both doses of the vaccine are received from the same manufacturer. This means that if the first dose of the vaccine is received from the supply of Pfizer/BioNTech, the second dose must also be from the supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Similarly, if the first dose of the vaccine is received from the supply of Moderna, the second dose must also be from the supply of the Moderna vaccine.
Just like you cannot mix the doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, you also cannot mix the J&J vaccine if you have already received a dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Side effects reported with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine include:
- Injection site pain
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Injection site swelling
- Injection site redness
- Feeling unwell
- Swollen lymph nodes
Side effects reported with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine include:
- Injection site pain
- Tenderness and swelling of lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Similar to both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the following side effects have been reported with the J&J vaccine:
- Injection site reactions
- Redness of the skin
- Muscle aches
mRNA vaccines, of which the COVID-19 vaccine is one type, are not new to medical science. In fact, mRNA vaccines have been studied before to fight Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus related to the virus that causes chickenpox and herpes simplex. mRNA vaccines do not use pieces of the live virus that causes COVID-19 disease. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Next, the cell displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begins building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection, against COVID-19.
At no point does the mRNA enter the cell's nucleus, which is where our genetic material (DNA) lives. Therefore, the COVID-19 vaccines are not harmful to our DNA.
Use of fetal tissue
Fetal tissue was not used during any development or production stages of either of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines. In other words, no fetal cells were used to manufacture the vaccine, nor are they found inside the vaccine shots that are received from a doctor.
Healthy adults of all ages are still very susceptible to getting COVID-19 disease. This is also true of otherwise healthy adults without any co-morbid and/or pre-existing conditions. Another consideration is that healthy adults, like others, can also spread the virus through aerosol droplets breathed in by others within close distance. In other words, people could be spreading the virus to others even if they do not develop symptoms or have a severe case of COVID-19 disease yourself.
Yes, but only under a certain set of circumstances. Those who receive both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (or the single dose of the J&J vaccine) and allow the required time to build up immunity (usually about 2 weeks) will reduce their chances of getting COVID-19.
However, if a person were to come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 one day prior to receiving the first dose of your vaccine, they may still develop COVID-19 disease because the vaccine has not had the opportunity to help the body build up immunity to the virus. This is also why it is important to continue wearing a mask even after receiving the vaccine doses.
Currently, there is not a timeline for when mask-wearing and social distancing will be discontinued. Ultimately, this is the decision of the Governor, in counsel with the Secretary of Health, Dr. Jose Romero. One very important point of clarification: Even those who receive the COVID-19 vaccine should continue to wear their mask and social distance while in public places.
Although the COVID-19 vaccine will protect the person who receives the vaccine from developing the COVID-19 disease, the virus is still capable of being transmitted by those same people. In other words, although COVID-19 may not affect me because I have received the vaccine, if I breathe, cough, or speak within close range of someone who is not yet vaccinated, I can still spread the virus to that person. Once enough people have taken the vaccine and community spread is no longer an issue, we can begin to return to a normal that does not require masks nor social distancing. Until then, wearing a mask, washing your hands, and social distancing are three of the most important tools we have for combating the virus.
This is also a good time to mention that vaccines are not a “cure” for COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available are only one tool in our public health toolbox to combat the virus. Vaccines are a huge step in the right direction for a return to normal, however, if we fail to continue wearing masks and social distancing, the vaccine will do little to slow community spread in Arkansas.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. That means it is possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. In simple terms, we currently do not have enough data to give an estimate for length of time of vaccine effectiveness. Once more data is available, we will have a better idea of the length of time the vaccine(s) will be effective.
The COVID-19 vaccines should be administered alone with a minimum of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccines, such as a flu shot.
There is currently no data available on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women. A discussion with your healthcare provider will be important to make an informed decision about whether or not to get vaccinated.
There is currently no data available on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in women who are breastfeeding. However, mRNA vaccines are not considered live virus vaccines and are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the vaccine could cause infertility in women. In addition, infertility is not known to occur as a result of natural COVID-19 disease, further demonstrating that immune responses to the virus, whether induced by infection or a vaccine, are not a cause of infertility.
At this point in time, there is no data to suggest that the vaccines will be harmful to anyone undergoing treatment for other diseases, infections, or chronic illnesses. However, if a person has concerns about taking the vaccine, and is being treated for other illnesses, they should talk to their doctor or other medical provider to determine whether they are eligible to take a vaccine.
I received monoclonal antibodies: Currently, there is no data on safety or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in persons who received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment. Vaccination should be deferred for at least 90 days to avoid interference of the treatment with vaccine-induced immune responses. This is not a substitute for receiving medical advice from a medical professional. Please consult your physician for medical advice.
I have had COVID-19 in the past 30 days:Vaccination should be offered to persons regardless of history of prior COVID-19 disease. Data suggests that vaccination is safe and effective in these persons. This is not a substitute for receiving medical advice from a medical professional. Please consult your physician for medical advice. This may differ depending on where you receive your vaccine. Some healthcare providers may recommend a minimum time between prior COVID-19 disease and vaccination.
Vaccine availability for children
The main reason that the vaccine companies, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has not allowed youth under 18 do not get the vaccine is simply because when the vaccines were undergoing their safety trials, they did not have anyone in the test groups who was under 18 years of age. Therefore, they cannot recommend the vaccines to those age groups because no data has been collected about the effectiveness of the vaccines is those under 18 years of age. It is important to know, however, that for those age groups who were in the vaccine trials (those over age 18), both vaccines have been found by the FDA to be safe and effective, and no significant safety concerns were identified during the review. Vaccines will eventually be released for youth under 18, and the safety and effectiveness trials are currently happening at the FDA.
University of Arkansas System employees are eligible to receive the vaccine beginning on January 18th, with the introduction of Phase 1b, which includes higher education personnel.
Will the vaccine be required to continue working for the University of Arkansas System?
At this time, the vaccine is not required to continue working for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
From CDC: Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called “natural immunity,” varies from person to person. It is rare for someone who has had COVID-19 to get infected again. It also is uncommon for people who do get COVID-19 again to get it within 90 days of when they recovered from their first infection. We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.
Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are working to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
ADH has released guidelines related to quarantine after exposure to a known COVID-19 contact. Fully vaccinated persons (both doses) do not have to quarantine if they meet all of the criteria in the guidelines.
The above information was written using evidence-based information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food & Drug Administration FDA), the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).