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One year after the CDC confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the United States, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Montgomery County hosted a program to present a vaccine update for business leaders. The program was designed to address questions including how a vaccine was developed so quickly, the safety profile, legal issues related to employee mandated immunizations and the distribution plan for residents and employees of Montgomery County.

Dr. Christine Roussel, Senior Executive Director Pharmacy, Laboratory & Medical Research, Doylestown Health, presented how vaccines work, the approval process in the United States and shared details on the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently approved for use. With a strong safety profile and millions of vaccines already administered, Dr. Roussel strongly recommended that those without contraindications get immunized.

Ethan O’Shea, Esq., litigation and employment attorney at Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin provided an update on the current orders of the Pennsylvania government concerning COVID-19. He discussed issues including whether employers can require their employees be vaccinated, how employers might handle employees who refuse to be vaccinated or have health concerns that preclude their being vaccinated, and the reasonable accommodations that can be made to help allay employees’ fear of being exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Janet Panning, MS, Interim Administrator, Office of Public Health, Montgomery County shared the status of local vaccine distribution, beginning with the county’s progress vaccinating populations in the 1A category. She indicated that the county is working closely with the state to secure their vaccination supply and that on February 3, 2021, a vaccine clinic will be open at Norristown High School, in order to double their current capacity.