Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

States Offer Varying Response to COVID-19 Resurgence

COVID-19 restrictions are returning in many states across the country. School cancellations, restrictions on bars and restaurants, and even state-wide shelter-in-place measures are all on the table as the United States grapples with a resurgence of the coronavirus. Health officials warn that the high numbers of infections should be of grave concern to everyone, young and old, as the care of coronavirus patients threatens to exceed the capacity of medical establishments.

State and local responses to the coronavirus surge have varied from a curb on nonessential businesses in New Jersey to dropped plans to bring children back to school in Philadelphia. In Michigan, Detroit’s school district will shift to online classes, and in New Mexico, all non-essential businesses must end in-person work for the next two weeks and restaurants must close to all but take-out and delivery.

Health Experts Talk COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

The COVID-19 vaccines on the way will have potentially painful side effects, experts say, and they want the public to be ready. “We are asking people to take a vaccine that is going to hurt,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Kaiser Health News. “There are lots of sore arms and substantial numbers of people who feel crummy, with headaches and muscle pain, for a day or two.”

Pfizer executive told The Stat to expect side effects similar to standard adult vaccines, but still a little nastier than pneumonia or flu shots. These shots can cause injection-site pain, aches, and fever.

One potential side effect of these side effects? Workers might miss work while they recover from them. Essential and healthcare workers, who will be receiving the vaccines first, may have to miss shifts when there’s already no one available to replace them. Other workers may face a lack of sick time or paid time off they can use to recover from the vaccine. The bottom line, experts say, is that people have to ramp up their prevention efforts — masks, hand washing, social distancing — to keep the country running before, during, and after the vaccination process.

HHS Will Partner with Pharmacies to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine

The Department of Health and Human Services will be partnering with pharmacies such as CVS, Costco, Rite Aid, Walmart and Walgreens when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes approved for distribution. The HHS has set up a partnership with these companies which will include 60% of their facilities across the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

In a press release, HHS says that “Vaccines will be administered at partners’ pharmacy locations at no cost to patients.” The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in October that vaccines will be covered at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries.