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Messages from the NIH Clinical center and Office of Medical services


COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for NIH Staff 1-8

 

I want to call your attention to the important message sent an hour ago by the NIH director which includes information about the NIH staff vaccination plan.  Please see this website called COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for NIH Staff which has important information about the order in which vaccinations will occur for NIH staff.

Please note that if you are currently teleworking and have an underlying medical condition or are 65 years of age or older, you should check your county health department website to determine where they are in their COVID-19 vaccination plan.  For Montgomery County and DC the websites are:  DC (65+ next week):  https://coronavirus.dc.gov/vaccine; MoCo:  https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/

Michael Gottesman, M.D.
Deputy Director for Intramural Research, NIH


 

Update on the NIH COVID-19 Vaccination Program 12-30-2020

 

The vaccination of NIH staff for COVID-19 began this week. Although NIH received a limited supply, we plan to inoculate hundreds of frontline healthcare workers over the next several weeks.

Vaccinations are by invitation only. Prioritization of healthcare staff is based on risk of workplace exposure and risk of transmission to others in the workplace. Prioritization also follows general guidance from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations.html. All staff, including contractors and fellows, are eligible to receive the vaccine within their respective priority group. 

The vaccine will be administered through Occupational Medical Service (OMS). OMS will notify specific employees once vaccine is available and they are eligible to receive it. Your invitation will arrive by email from "OMSCovidVaccineProgram" (OMSCOVIDVaccineProgram@mail.nih.gov). Please check your email regularly for this important message. Once an employee receives an invitation, the individual has three options:

* Accept
* Defer - won't lose designation in priority group.
* Decline – will be removed from priority group.

The Moderna vaccine NIH received is administered in two doses, given 28 days apart. Plan ahead to ensure, once you register, you are able to keep your scheduled appointment. With a limited supply and short shelf life, a 'no show' risks wasting valuable vaccine. Employees will receive a reminder message to schedule to receive their second dose.

The email invitation will include:

  1. A link to schedule your vaccination appointment.
  2. Information on the vaccine, including the FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) factsheet.
  3. Voluntary informational session to explain the vaccine, EUA and reporting expectations.
  4. An available private consult with OMS to go over any questions or concerns.

The NIH continues to work with the State of Maryland and other states where NIH has a presence, such as North Carolina (RTP) and Montana (RML), with the intent of providing additional timelines and information once more vaccine becomes available.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we begin this encouraging next step towards ending the pandemic.


 

COVID-19 Vaccine Kick-Off Event at the NIH Clinical Center 12-21-2020

Dear NIH Family:

It is with great pride that NIH will hold a COVID-19 vaccination kick-off event at the NIH Clinical Center to mark the beginning of NIH’s vaccination program for its employees on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event takes place tomorrow, Tuesday, December 22, 10:00 a.m. ET. The live event will kick-off with remarks by NIH Office of Research Services Director Colleen McGowan, HHS Secretary Alex Azar II, NIAID Director Tony Fauci, and me. Six Clinical Center front-line health care workers will be immunized with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, known as mRNA 1273.  Following that, the four of us will also be immunized to demonstrate our confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

I’m also happy to report that the State of Maryland has committed to provide additional vaccine doses in the next week or so. This will make it possible for additional Clinical Center healthcare workers to be vaccinated and will also ensure appropriate follow up for the second dose.

I invite you to join this historic event via the following channels:

This unprecedented scientific achievement comes less than a year following the identification of the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. In a partnership with Moderna, NIH researchers then successfully designed, created, and tested this vaccine candidate – building on years of basic and clinical research. The Moderna vaccine has been shown to be safe, and more than 94 percent efficacious in large-scale clinical trials. Congratulations to our dedicated NIH staff, particularly at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Vaccine Research Center, whose efforts have been instrumental in helping us to turn the tide against this devasting pandemic.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
NIH Director


Asymptomatic vs. For-Cause COVID-19 Testing at the NIH 12-16-2020 Icon NEW

 

In recent weeks, as COVID-19 positivity rates rise across the nation, employee participation in the NIH asymptomatic testing program has also increased. Over 100 NIH employees have tested positive through asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 at six different sites in four states. The program is working.

Unfortunately, many of the over 100 who tested positive, later admitted to mild, non-specific symptoms they attributed to conditions other than COVID-19. The chance of exposing NIH staff (and patients at the Clinical Center) to COVID-19 increases in the presence of persons who are in the early, most infectious phases of their illness.

* If you have any symptom - fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, stuffy/runny nose, body/muscle aches, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, loss of smell or taste - even if only mild, even if you believe it is attributed to allergies or some other illness, do not go through any asymptomatic testing program.

* If you have been in close contact - within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or longer over 24 hours - with someone infectious with COVID-19, do not go through any asymptomatic testing program.

Instead, please seek testing through NIH by completing the Occupational Medical Service (OMS) Coronavirus Questionnaire at: https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/Pages/oms-covid-screening.aspx. If you receive testing in your community, report positive results to the NIH COVID-19 Call Center at 301-480-08990 or by filling out the OMS questionnaire.

Help us continue to keep you, your families, and your workplace safe, and run critical operations while we fight this pandemic by reducing known or unknown risks of exposure to patients and coworkers.

Thank you.
OMS Monitoring Program


What happens when an NIH staff member tests positive for COVID-19?


If an NIH staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the following steps (PDF) are activated:

  • If NIH did the testing, the Occupational Medical Service (OMS) will contact the individual directly with guidance on home isolation, including for household members within 24–48 hours.
  • OMS and the NIH Clinical Center Hospital Epidemiology Service (HES) will initiate contact tracing to identify staff who work in close proximity to the individual and may have been exposed. If testing is done elsewhere, staff are expected to notify OMS of their positive result, so contact tracing can proceed if warranted.
  • OMS will advise staff who test positive to work with their primary care physician to determine a plan for medical care.
  • OMS or Clinical Center Hospital Epidemiology Service must report positive test results to the public health departments with jurisdiction over the home area where a worker who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • OMS also will notify the staff member’s supervisor that the individual is sick with a health condition and is advised to stay at home.
  • At no time should supervisors or staff share information about suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infections of NIH staff with anyone other than those authorized by the affected individual(s) to receive such communication.
  • Those potentially exposed individuals will be contacted by OMS to assess their risk. They will be asked to quarantine and monitor themselves for possible COVID-19 symptoms if their exposure constitutes a significant risk of infection according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The OMS Active Monitoring Protocol allows contacts of COVID-19 positive persons to identify earliest signs of illness and determine the need for testing.
  • Areas where the staff member worked will be evaluated for cleaning and potential closure if the space is not needed for immediate occupancy. If the person has not been on site more than 5 days prior to symptoms, then the workspace will not require cleaning. Any questions can be directed to the Division of Occupational Health and Safety for guidance.
  • Staff who work in those areas will be notified of this requirement.

Visit the NIH Intranet for additional FAQs and further information regarding the coronavirus pandemic.


 

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing in the Clinical Center: 11-4-2020 and 11-12 and 1/7/2021 Updates

The NIH Clinical Center has established a program for testing asymptomatic staff for SARS-CoV-2. If you are not yet eligible to return to the physical workspace (not a member of Groups 0, A, or B) you are still eligible to be tested in this program. While this program was launched with the focus on those already working on site, we have sufficient capacity to provide testing for those who have not returned yet. You are receiving this email because you are eligible to participate in this program. The program is voluntary but strongly encouraged for those working onsite.

To participate, go to https://clinweb.cc.nih.gov/cct to sign up for asymptomatic testing for SARS-CoV-2.  You must take the following actions to be scheduled for asymptomatic testing:

  1. Read & acknowledge the Privacy Act notice.
  2. Establish an account in the patient portal using your personal cell phone and email account.
  3. Sign up to get tested.

NOTE:  Please use either Chrome, Firefox, IE Edge, or Safari web browsers. To access the site you need to be on NIH VPN, NIH IC CITRIX or a NIH Workstation.

Saliva Option Announced:

On 14 September  we began offering saliva testing in addition to mid-turbinate swab testing on the 5th floor. When you check in with the medical support assistants on the 5th floor, you will be asked whether you are there for saliva or mid-turbinate test. If you identified saliva, it is best to avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum or tobacco for at least 30 minutes before sample collection.  The bar code label will encode your answer. When you get to the area of the 5th floor where specimens are obtained you will be given a container to collect your saliva if that is what you have chosen. Otherwise you will enter a room where a nurse will collect the mid-turbinate swab just as we have been doing now for months. A whole group of staff led by Dr. Frank of DLM have completed a study to show that saliva is almost as sensitive as the mid-turbinate swab for finding COVID-19 infection. Mid-turbinate swab is still recommended as first choice but saliva is a good second choice for anyone still struggling with having a swab inserted into their nose.

Updated Privacy Notice   Icon NEW

The reporting of COVID-19 testing results was recently changed by HHS.  Originally, it was required that states report all positive SARS-CoV-2 test results.  Now, the reporting has been expanded to include negative test results for all testing, as well.

As a result, we have updated the privacy notice to include the following changes:

  • In the course of its employee health activities, your identifiable medical record information may need to be released outside of NIH and HHS, these situations are described in the System of Records Notice routine uses available here: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/02-23965/p-29.
  • Additionally, your home address will be collected from the NIH Enterprise Directory (NED).

NIH staff that are participating in the asymptomatic testing program need to acknowledge this new privacy notice, which has been added to the asymptomatic testing website.  The next time you access the website to schedule an appointment, you will be prompted to acknowledge the new privacy notice. 

Any questions on the privacy notice requirement can be directed to:  cc-dcriprivacy@cc.nih.gov

Location of Asymptomatic Testing:

Please access the NIH Clinical Center Building 10 complex via the North or South entrances.  Upon entry, you will be screened and given a surgical mask, which must be worn at all times while you are in the Clinical Center.

Proceed directly to the 5th floor Atrium area to check in for your test at your scheduled time; a map of the testing area is shown below. 

  • From the North Elevators, enter the red or yellow queues on either side of the atrium keeping social distance by standing on the marked “X”’s and proceeding when the one ahead opens up.  Continue around the atrium towards the check-In area.
  • After checking-in, you will be prompted to enter through the SE 5-4400 Corridor and follow the X’s down the hall.  When you arrive in the middle of the corridor, you will enter the Testing Area door (on the right) where you will be directed to enter a testing room.
  • After your test is completed, exit the testing area into the SE 5-4400 corridor and turn right.  Continue to walk down the corridor and exit through the door at the end of the hallway.  Take the elevators at the end of the SE corridor, proceed to the first floor and immediately exit the building.

Map of COVID-19 testing site in the Clinical Center

James K. Gilman, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NIH Clinical Center


 

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing in the Clinical Center: 10-14-2020 Update

 

The 5th floor testing for COVID-19 in the Clinical Center remains underutilized. Occasionally, one or more staff members will email questions related to the testing program to me. While answers to most of the questions are available on the NIH COVID-19 Intranet page, I recognize that there is a lot of information on the page and finding answers to specific questions takes significant effort. Therefore, I am providing answers to the most asked questions in this email with the goal of increasing the number NIH staff participating in the testing program.

  1. Q: What is the main purpose of the testing program?
    A: The main purpose of the testing program is surveillance – providing some understanding of the COVID-19 in our workplace and in our work force.

  2. Q: If the main purpose of the program is surveillance, will I even receive my individual results?
    A: Yes, by establishing your account in the NIH patient portal when you schedule your appointment you ensure that your individual results will be returned to you securely. Negative results are automatically returned through the portal. If you are one of the rare positives, the Occupational Medical Service or the Hospital Epidemiology Service will contact you to take a history and find out who you may have been in contact with and may have exposed to the virus. (Remember that contact tracing is done in strict confidence.)

  3. Q: If I don’t routinely work in the CC, aren’t I exposing myself to a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 by going into the CC?
    A: No. The prevalence of COVID-19 infected individuals (staff or patients) in the CC is very low. Only 2 or 3 staff test positive in the asymptomatic test line per 1000 tests. Even if you were exposed to one of those individuals the exposure would be a low risk exposure since you would be wearing a mask and the person with the asymptomatic infection would be wearing a mask. We do not have an Emergency Room so it is unlikely that the virus can enter the CC through the avenue that puts other hospitals at greater risk.

James K. Gilman, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NIH Clinical Center


Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing of NIH Staff: 9-30-2020 Update (Resent on 10-14 and 10-28)


The NIH Clinical Center has established a program for testing asymptomatic staff for SARS-CoV-2. If you are not yet eligible to return to the physical workspace (not a member of Groups 0, A, or B) you are still eligible to be tested in this program. While this program was launched with the focus on those already working on site, we have sufficient capacity to provide testing for those who have not returned yet. You are receiving this email because you are eligible to participate in this program. The program is voluntary but strongly encouraged for those working onsite.

To participate, go to https://clinweb.cc.nih.gov/cct to sign up for asymptomatic testing for SARS-CoV-2.  You must take the following actions to be scheduled for asymptomatic testing:

  1.  Read & acknowledge the Privacy Act notice.
  2. Establish an account in the patient portal using your personal cell phone and email account.
  3. Sign up to get tested.

NOTE:  Please use either Chrome, Firefox, IE Edge, or Safari web browsers. To access the site you need to be on NIH VPN, NIH IC CITRIX or a NIH Workstation.

Saliva Option Announced:

On 14 September  we began offering saliva testing in addition to mid-turbinate swab testing on the 5th floor. When you check in with the medical support assistants on the 5th floor, you will be asked whether you are there for saliva or mid-turbinate test. If you identified saliva, it is best to avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum or tobacco for at least 30 minutes before sample collection.  The bar code label will encode your answer. When you get to the area of the 5th floor where specimens are obtained you will be given a container to collect your saliva if that is what you have chosen. Otherwise you will enter a room where a nurse will collect the mid-turbinate swab just as we have been doing now for months. A whole group of staff led by Dr. Frank of DLM have completed a study to show that saliva is almost as sensitive as the mid-turbinate swab for finding COVID-19 infection. Mid-turbinate swab is still recommended as first choice but saliva is a good second choice for anyone still struggling with having a swab inserted into their nose.

Ability to Change PREFERRED Site to be tested: Icon NEW

You can change the PREFERRED Site that you would like to be tested between NIH Campus, NIDA-NIA Baltimore and NCI Frederick.  This change is only for future appointments. The Web Site allows you to change back to your HOME Site.  You must use the Web Site to change your PREFERRED Site. Please remember when changing sites only NIH Bethesda/NIH Campus offers an option to collect Saliva.

Location of Asymptomatic Testing:

Please access the NIH Clinical Center Building 10 complex via the North or South entrances.  Upon entry, you will be screened and given a surgical mask, which must be worn at all times while you are in the Clinical Center.

Proceed directly to the 5th floor Atrium area to check in for your test at your scheduled time; a map of the testing area is shown below.

  • From the North Elevators, enter the red or yellow queues on either side of the atrium keeping social distance by standing on the marked “X”’s and proceeding when the one ahead opens up.  Continue around the atrium towards the check-In area.
  • After checking-in, you will be prompted to enter through the SE 5-4400 Corridor and follow the X’s down the hall.  When you arrive in the middle of the corridor, you will enter the Testing Area door (on the right) where you will be directed to enter a testing room.
  • After your test is completed, exit the testing area into the SE 5-4400 corridor and turn right.  Continue to walk down the corridor and exit through the door at the end of the hallway.  Take the elevators at the end of the SE corridor, proceed to the first floor and immediately exit the building.

James K. Gilman, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NIH Clinical Center

Map of COVID-19 testing site in the Clinical Center


 

Update on NIH Foil the Flu (9-25-2020)

 

The NIH is pleased to announce interest in the Foil the Flu Annual Seasonal Influenza Immunization Program has already been overwhelming. With the campaign set to begin on Monday, September 28, over 4,000 employees have successfully scheduled an appointment with Occupational Medical Service (OMS) through the registration system (https://oms.ors.nih.gov). Admittedly, this intense interest has led to some system delays, limiting a select number of employees ability to achieve a desired appointment. OMS understands the frustration and sincerely apologizes for the holdup. OMS has made changes to the appointment system and expects registrations to proceed much more smoothly. 

Another concern for employees was the perceived lack of a firm confirmation that an appointment was successfully scheduled. Although you can visit the "Manage My Health Appointments" tab in the registration system and select "My Appointments" to view your appointment, OMS has added an auto-generated confirmation sent to an employee's work email account. The message includes the appointment date, time and location. Messages will also be sent to confirm appointment cancellations.

There are still plenty of slots available to register up until the end date on November 6. If you had trouble the first time, OMS encourages you to visit the site again and schedule an appointment. Google Chrome is the preferred browser for the Foil the Flu Registration application, on both Windows and MacOS. Firefox and Safari are also supported. Internet Explorer is not supported.    

For the 2020 - 2021 Immunization Schedule and Online Appointment Registration, visit: https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/flu/Pages/vaccine_sched.aspx. For off-campus flu clinic locations and dates, parking information for off-campus sites, and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit: https://www.foiltheflu.nih.gov.

If, after checking the Foil the Flu website, you still have questions, please contact OMS at 301-496-4411 or OMSfluclinic@mail.nih.gov or the Hospital Epidemiology Service at 301-496-2209.            

Foil the Flu is sponsored by:

NIH Office of Research Services/Division of Occupational Health and Safety/Occupational Medical Service and the NIH Clinical Center/Hospital Epidemiology Service