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COVID-19 Vaccination Information for Staff

As of Monday, January 11, 2021, all school personnel are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, along with other priority populations in phase 1b. The Ithaca City School District is encouraging staff to get vaccinated, however, it is not mandatory.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for vaccination in our district?
Is it possible for in-person staff to be given priority?
How do I secure an appointment for vaccination?
I tried to register for an appointment as soon as the link was shared, but there were no appointments available. Why are we being invited to register when there are no appointments available?
Is there a method in place to timely notify paraprofessional substitutes who may not yet have been issued a Chromebook?
Where is the vaccination clinic located?
How long will it take for vaccines to be administered to people in phase 1b?
What do I need to bring to my vaccination appointment?
Am I able to report to work if I am experiencing side effects following vaccination for COVID-19?
If I get a COVID-19 vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask, avoid crowds, and physically distance from others?
If I get a COVID-19 vaccine do I still need to quarantine following exposure to someone with COVID-19?
If I get a COVID-19 vaccine do I still need to quarantine following travel outside of New York or beyond neighboring states?
If I experience side effects from the vaccine and need to take time off, will I have to use sick days or will it be covered by the district?
What is the district doing to support employee vaccination?
Will the district host vaccination clinics?
Will virtual staff be asked to return once fully immunized?
Where can I find more information on COVID-19 vaccines and upcoming clinics?
 
Who is eligible for vaccination in our district?
Thankfully, all employees of the ICSD are eligible for vaccination. As of January 23, New York State has instructed Local Health Departments to prioritize administration of allocated COVID-19 vaccine doses to essential workers in phase 1b, including first responder agencies, corrections staff, and workers in P-12 schools.
  • If you are an employee of the Ithaca City School District, you are eligible for vaccination.
    • You can be vaccinated in any county of the state (including Tompkins County or your home county).
  • Contractors working in a P-12 school or school district (including contracted bus drivers) are eligible for vaccination.
  • Licensed, registered, approved, or legally exempt group childcare and childcare providers are eligible for vaccination.
 
Is it possible for in-person staff to be given priority?
The Tompkins County Health Department has a first-come, first-served practice; there is no “prioritization” of one type of district employee over another. The health department will release appointments in phases to prioritized groups in phase 1b. Each group will have a predetermined amount of time to register for appointments before the next group is provided a registration link. The link is not available to the public and should not be shared with others who are not in these eligible groups.
 
How do I secure an appointment for vaccination?
Information on how to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment will be emailed to all staff, using their ICSD email address. 
  • The Tompkins County Health Department will notify local school districts about their plans to conduct vaccination clinics after confirming the amount of vaccines available.
  • The ICSD will notify all staff in advance of the scheduling link being shared, including what day and time the scheduling link will be sent by email.
  • The online registration link will be emailed to all staff, using their district email address, from ICSD Communications.
    If you do not have a device for connecting to the internet, please let your supervisor or principal know in advance so that you can be provided a device while on-site.
  • Staff should click on the scheduling link in the email to begin the process of securing an appointment.
 
I tried to register for an appointment as soon as the link was shared, but there were no appointments available. Why are we being invited to register when there are no appointments available?
Each time the ICSD shares a link for scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments with all staff, as directed by the Tompkins County Health Department, that same link is provided to all school districts in Tompkins County. As you can imagine, with only limited supplies of vaccines available, the appointment slots are quickly filled. The TCHD acknowledges there have not been enough slots for everyone eligible in the identified priority groups. The Ithaca City School District is encouraging staff to get vaccinated, however, it is not mandatory.

As a reminder, there is no residency requirement to get vaccinated at a specific location. You can contact the NYS COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline, open 7 AM - 10 PM, 7 days a week, for scheduling vaccination appointments in other locations: 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
 
Is there a method in place to timely notify paraprofessional substitutes who may not yet have been issued a Chromebook?
At this time, substitute paraprofessionals don’t receive devices, but there should be extra devices throughout all of our buildings, which folks can use at any time.
 
Where is the vaccination clinic located?
The primary vaccination site is located at The Shops at Ithaca Mall (40 Catherwood Road) and hours may vary. Appointments are required. Plan at least one hour for your appointment. Your wait time may vary. 

It is anticipated as we move through the phases and vaccine availability improves, there may be more clinic sites and weekend clinics offered.

There is no residency requirement to get vaccinated at a specific location. You can contact the NYS COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline, open 7 AM - 10 PM, 7 days a week, for scheduling vaccination appointments: 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
 
How long will it take for vaccines to be administered to people in phase 1b?
Based on the current rate of vaccine distribution to New York State by the federal government, the Governor’s office estimates individuals in phase 1a and phase 1b will be vaccinated by mid-April. This timeline may be subject to change with any shifts to distribution patterns. For example, the previous time estimate only included those individuals who are 75 or older. Thus, it is likely that this timeline will extend beyond April.

Locally, Cayuga Health System and the Tompkins County Health Department have a goal to administer around 1,000 vaccinations a day.
 
What do I need to bring to my vaccination appointment?
There is no residency requirement to get vaccinated at a specific location. There is no cost or co-pay for the vaccine. Please bring:
  • Government issued photo ID (drivers license, passport)
  • Insurance card (insurance is being billed; there is no co-pay and no charge if you do not have medical insurance)
  • Your smart phone (you will scan a QR code for your follow-up appointment; they have iPads available if you aren’t able to access it)
  • Verification of your eligibility to be vaccinated in the current phase (any of the following):
    • Work ID badge with title
    • Letter from your employer identifying your eligibility
    • Paystub
 
Am I able to report to work if I am experiencing side effects following vaccination for COVID-19?
Maybe. Everybody’s body reacts differently to vaccines. Side effects are a natural part of the vaccination process, are more common after the second dose, and less common in older adults. Common side effects are soreness or swelling on the arm where you got the shot, headache, body aches, tiredness, and fever. Side effects usually:
  • are mild to moderate; 
  • start within the first three days after vaccination (the day after vaccination is the most common);
  • last about one to two days after they begin.
If your symptoms do not affect your ability to do daily activities, then you can report to work.

Other symptoms, such as a runny nose, cough, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, loss of taste or smell, or diarrhea indicate illness, including COVID-19.

Call your healthcare provider, or schedule a telemedicine consultation with a Cayuga Medical Center provider, if you have any side effects that concern you or do not go away after a few days, or if the redness or soreness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours.
 
If I get a COVID-19 vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask, avoid crowds, and physically distance from others?
Yes. You will need to continue to wear a mask and practice distancing and good hand hygiene for the foreseeable future as vaccine administration continues.

Experts need more time to understand the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on mask use. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.
 
If I get a COVID-19 vaccine do I still need to quarantine following exposure to someone with COVID-19?
On February 11th, New York State announced their intention to adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance regarding quarantine following exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. According to the guidance, 'asymptomatic fully vaccinated individuals', meaning those who have received both shots and at least two weeks have passed since the second shot, are no longer required to quarantine within 90 days after the second shot. It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. That means it is possible a person could still get COVID-19 just after vaccination. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

Per Governor Cuomo, "All New Yorkers, including those who have been fully vaccinated, should continue to wear masks, social distance, and be smart until herd immunity is reached and this pandemic is fully relegated to the history books."
 
If I get a COVID-19 vaccine do I still need to quarantine following travel outside of New York or beyond neighboring states?
At this time, NYS maintains quarantine requirements related to travel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. That means it is possible a person could still get COVID-19 just after vaccination. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

Although COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting sick, scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not get sick.

If you are vaccinated against COVID-19, you may still be exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. After exposure, people can be infected with or “carry” the virus that causes COVID-19 but not feel sick or have any symptoms. Experts call this “asymptomatic infection.”

For this reason, even after vaccination, we need to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions.

Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions.
 
If I experience side effects from the vaccine and need to take time off, will I have to use sick days or will it be covered by the district?
The ICSD is encouraging staff to be fully vaccinated. It is important to remove barriers that act as potential disincentives. If any employee experiences side effects from the vaccine significant enough that they cannot work, the ICSD will cover the employee for up to three (3) calendar days post-vaccination. The employee would not have to utilize their own accrued benefit days during that time period.
 
What is the district doing to support employee vaccination?
The vaccination program is managed solely through a partnership between Cayuga Health System and the Tompkins County Health Department. The district has no role or influence in the administration or prioritization of vaccinations.

Once you have an appointment for vaccination, please notify your supervisor as soon as possible. District administrators and supervisors are working with staff to ensure coverage is available to allow staff release time to be vaccinated.
 
Will the district host vaccination clinics?
The ICSD has reached out to all area pharmacies about conducting staff vaccination clinics at school sites. Currently, pharmacies are ONLY allowed to vaccinate those aged 65+, per New York State mandate. If this changes, we have indicated our interest in hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics at school sites.
 
Will virtual staff be asked to return once fully immunized?
The ICSD will not be asking staff to make changes to their current work arrangement for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. If staff who are remote would like to return in person this school year, they should reach out to their supervisor and Human Resources. 
 
Where can I find more information on COVID-19 vaccines and upcoming clinics?
There are a number of ways to access information, including: