NASA Town Hall (Update)

Keith's 11 January note: There is a agency wide Town Hall coming up soon. Nothing is online yet and NASA PAO has not responded to my inquiry. Usually when Administrators depart and the White House changes hands there is an agency-wide event with farewell messages, awards given out etc. Stay tuned.

Keith's 12 January update: PAO says that no "public" event is scheduled at this time.

Keith's 14 January update: When I asked HQ PAO if there was a Town Hall they said there would not be a "public event". When I asked if there was a non-public event planned they did not respond. Well as many of you know, there is an internal NASA agency wide Town Hall - albeit a recorded one - regarding COVID-19 Issues on Friday, 15 January. As for a farewell event for Jim Bridenstine et al - there apparently is nothing planned. Then again, watching the SLS core stage fire ought to be a nice send off ;-)

Agency Town Hall: COVID-19 Vaccine

"On Friday, Jan. 15, NASA leaders will record a town hall to answer employee questions about coronavirus vaccinations. Participating in the event are: Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk, Deputy Associate Administrator Melanie Saunders, Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk, Deputy Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. Vince Michaud, and Chief Human Capital Officer Jane Datta. Submit your question below and/or vote up questions already posted."

Keith's 14 January update: NASA has taken down these employee comments.

Below are the questions as of 14 January (the numbers on the left are up-votes):

369 Will the centers distribute vaccines to employess?
330 Will it be required to have the covid vaccine to be allowed on center?
298 Given that there are serious civil liberties issues involved (I believe the Nuremberg Code forbids forced medical procedures and therapies,) scores of legitimate questions as to vaccine efficacy both short and long term, and the simple availability of continued coronavirus testing to confirm non-infection, will this latter - testing - remain an option for those unwilling to play Guinea Pig for drug companies?
258 If the center provides or facilitates vaccinations, will contractors be on equal footing (priority) with civil servants?
204 There's no evidence showing that vaccination will prevent spreading the virus once infected. Can you please educate our workforce about this? Rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated should be the same. What measures will NASA take to prevent discrimination against those who oppose getting the vaccine.
195 Will we be allowed to remain teleworking if we are not comfortable returning to the center (for personal or medical reasons)?
188 Many people are still skeptical about the vaccines due to a variety of reasons (e.g., new mRNA technologies, short period of clinical trials to ascertain long-term effects). Can the agency medical personnel comment on these concerns?
168 When will the science data be available to the public on the long term impacts of the COVID vaccine? I understand there are many healthcare workers who are declining the vaccine until the science data is available.
165 Will masks be required still and will there a way to report those who are not complying?
165 Will we get updates on what percent of the center workforce has been vaccinated so that we can feel comfortable?
152 What compensation is being proposed for those who experience adverse/negative reactions to the novel vaccines?
145 If NASA can provide vaccines, will higher-risk employees be given priority, or will it largely be mission critical personnel?
142 Given that the vaccine did not follow the usual complete testing protocols, many are reluctant to take the vaccine. For those that choose not take the vaccine, will they be prevented from coming back to work onsite at NASA faciltiies?
138 Are there any updates to the timing of the our return to work based on county wide vaccinations, individual vaccination, et?
135 Are NASA employees considered "defense" or "government operations" employees for the purpose of local vaccination categories?
122 Can you confirm that NASA employees will never be forced to take a vaccine in order to return to work on-site?
115 What are the Center/Agency consequences if employees choose not to be Covid vaccinated?
91 Will there be any cost associated with the vaccine, for civil servants or contractors?
85 How will vaccines affect the stage level of each center?
83 Are there any side effects that are being seen/studies that could cause long term consequences or health impacts?
82 Is NASA asking for a bulk lot of vaccines for its staff? If so, when can we expect it?
76 With NASA distributing the vaccine, will NASA be working to provide the second (2nd) dose of the vaccine at the right time?
75 Is the period of efficacy known for the two current COVID vaccines that are being administered today?
68 If NASA can provide vaccines, will they prioritize our cleaning staff and others who must be on-site and at risk?
64 Dr. Polk, have you personally received one or both doses of the vaccine? If so, how was your experience?
59 Is the vaccine effective after the first dose, or only after both? And can you clarify what "effective" means? Is one immune from getting COVID after vaccination?
58 Kids can't receive the vaccine. Most don't get very sick, but some kids (incl. my own) have underlying medical conditions. Will NASA support me staying at home until a pediatric vaccine is available?
58 Has there been any evidence of problems between the vaccine and fertility/pregnancy?
54 I've heard that if you have a reaction to the first of the two shots, that you should not get the second shot. Is this true?
53 Please require a vaccine for all employees on center once they are available!
53 Office sharing - I have 3 officemates. Will there be policy updates and guidance regarding these situations?
52 Must I carry paperwork to prove that I have been vaccinated? Does this violate HIPAA laws?
52 Given that the vaccine did not follow the usual complete testing protocols, many are reluctant to take the vaccine. For those that choose not take the vaccine, will they be prevented from coming back to work onsite at NASA faciltiies?
49 Will the current Pfizer & Moderna vaccines provide any protection against this newest, more contagious strand?
48 None of the vaccines are "approved by the FDA", but are distributed under EUAs. Does NASA consider them safe for Astronauts?
45 Will family members of NASA employees also receive the vaccine? You can be a carrier even after getting the vaccine.
41 Will we be required to use our own sick leave, if we have side effects from the vaccine and are unable to work for 1-2 days?
41 Which vaccine is NASA getting? Whom will be administering the vaccine? Does NASA have the refrigeration capability?
40 Will NASA be asking us if we've received the vaccine? Will you be requiring a certain percentage of employee vaccs b4 reopen?
39 After widespread vaccinations, will work from home continue to be an option? Flexibility of some WFH is excellent for some.
38 What underlying conditions would negate the vaccine, if any?
37 Will different age groups at NASA be given the vaccine at different times?
37 The President elect's plan to release all Government vaccine inventory seems disconcerting given there is no guarantee that a second vaccine shot would be available to an individual about a month later, thus reducing the overall vaccine effectiveness of a single dose. Can you please comment on this approach and whether NASA will guarantee people who receive the vaccine through its means will receive both required doses?
33 If mission critical employees are required to travel for work in the near-term, will they be prioritized for the vaccine?
33 Please either require a vaccine or continue to require distancing/masks/daily temp checks for those who refuse the vaccine!
31 Are there any differences between the different vaccines that would warrant waiting or seeking out one of the other?
30 Will we be allowed to remain teleworking if we are not comfortable returning to the center (for personal or medical reasons)?
30 What percentage of employees must be vaccinated to move to Stage 1?
28 I've heard that some people have contracted COVID-19 more than once (meaning somehow they didn't get immunity after having it the first time). Once you have received the 2 vaccines, are they a permanent long term solution, or will you have to get booster shots?
27 How do you expect the vaccine to affect agency work, i.e. schedules, number of employees onsite, and telework?
24 Will we be able to choose which vaccine we recieve? E.g. Moderna vs. Pfizer?
24 Can we have future training on critical thinking and news literacy? The variance in understanding seems to indicate a need.
23 Will you have to go to the Center to receive a vaccine, or will there be alternate location options?
23 What are the Center/Agency consequences if employees choose not to be Covid vaccinated?
22 How long after taking both vaccinations must I wait before returning to work, and will I still need to wear a mask?
22 Do HIPPA rules prevent anyone from asking if I have vaccine or if I have a condition that prevents receiving vaccine?
22 Considering our continued well-being and adaptability, will NASA encourage agency-wide, permanent remote work when possible?
21 Is NASA prioritizing vaccines for all CS and on-site contractors? Shouldn't we do this just as we flu vaccines. With employees able to go to Centers for a shot, in some type of staggered appointment system.
21 Will employees (CS or contractors) be required to get the vaccine to work on-site? Will employees be required to get the vaccine before traveling?
21 How can I help facilitate vaccinations at the NASA site nearest me?
21 Our group is on center daily. We have been on center daily since July 2020. We have been on center as part of the construction effort and are regarded as essential employees. We work directly (in-person) with customers, construction professionals, outside vendors, suppliers, etc. Since this is a higher risk than a typical office environment as far as exposure, is there going to be an employee category based on a risk assessment of their duties?
21 What is in a Covid Vaccine? Realistically how many people worldwide have gotten sick or died from it?
20 If COVID19 tests are required to travel, will proof of having the vaccine eliminate the need for a COVID-19 test?
19 NASA is far superior at project management, including logistics, than other government agencies. During this time of a national emergency with the pandemic being our top priority, why hasn't NASA been asked to step in and manage the vaccine roll-out, which so far has fallen way short of expectations?
19 How does NASA plan to trace whom has received the vaccine? If I get vaccinated elsewhere, do I have to tell NASA?
19 Given that NASA is a data-driven organization, why are "official travel" and "personal travel" treated differently with respect to quarantine requirements after returning from travel? One would think the epidemiological concerns are the same.
18 Is it known if (or for how long) the vaccinated will be "contagious" to the as-yet-unvaccinated during the process of receiving both vaccine doses?
18 I've heard that the second shot you receive for the COVID vaccine can cause some pretty harsh bodily reactions (chills, fever, headache, nauseousness, etc.) which can persist for a day or two. If we decide to receive the COVID vaccinations, will we be able to claim XLV leave in the event we are not able to work due to experiencing some of these reactions?
18 There are many questions here doubting the safety of vaccines. Can you explain that the vaccines have been thoroughly tested, and are perfectly safe? Will employee safety be compromised by allowing lower overall vaccination levels on-lab due to baseless fears? Those who choose not to vaccinate without an approved medical reason should not be allowed on-lab where they could expose their coworkers.
17 Will Mission Essential personnel who have continued to work on-site be prioritized in receiving the vaccine?
17 Will it be required to have the covid vaccine to be allowed on center?
17 On Dec 4th, the CDC updated its guidance to include universal mask usage while indoors. Why haven't some centers (incl. JSC) updated requirements accordingly?
16 Will NASA require we receive the vaccine in order to return to work?
16 What are the long-term effects of an mRNA vaccine? I have concerns about cancer based on previous attempts to use mRNA
15 When will vaccine be available to 65+ in MD?
15 What NASA employees have been vaccinated so far?
15 If both spouses/significant others work at NASA and only one is mission-critical/mission-essential, will they both be allowed to get the vaccine at the same time?
15 Can you please talk through the different vaccination options available in the U.S. to help us make evidence based decisions?
15 TRACKING: please make vaccination progress data available on the nasapeople website with daily updates, 1st dose, 2nd dose, by center. Similar to CDC tracker.
15 Can the vaccines interfere with other drugs and vice versa?
15 Please do not make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory. I will not take the vaccine, and if that costs me my job, so be it.
14 Is there any feel for how long the vaccine is effective? Assuming this will be a yearly vaccine, will it be modified like the flu virus is every year?
14 What happens if inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine that was not stored at the required temperatures?
14 What if an employee has already had the virus, will that be considered the same as getting the vaccine? Will they be expected to still get the vaccine?
14 What happens if many people don't get the second half of a two-part inoculation? Can the result be a more virulent form of the virus?
13 How will the vaccine affect work related travel?
13 Can we set up NASA wide study? Estimates of %vaccinated for each center, %self reporting adverse effects, %covid cases, etc?
13 Can you discuss the evidence around the different vaccinations available with pregnancy and breastfeeding? Are there any risks to the baby in either case?
13 Pfizer and Moderna have reported the efficacies of their vaccines in preventing COVID symptoms. What are the expected efficacies of these vaccines against *asymptomatic infection and transmission*?
12 Who will be responsible for making sure COVID-19 tests have happened prior to travel? What docs will be required as proof?
12 The vaccine may be less effective for racial minorities, and those with immunodeficiencies cannot receive the vaccine at all, what can be done to make it safer for them to return to work?
12 How does this vaccine affect someone with asthma, COPD, and other underlying health issues?
12 For General Counsel: Can NASA be held liable for adverse reactions to requiring the vaccine?
12 Did any part of the formulation of these vaccines originate from China?
12 RTOW is currently prioritized at the center level and restricted to "mission critical" work. Meanwhile, the rest of us are stuck at home and the message, like it or not, is that our work is not very important. While we appreciate the paycheck, the message is demeaning. Risk management is a question of probability and consequence. Covid is not trivial, but each of us is required to manage that risk every day in order to survive. Will you consider changing the way centers prioritize RTOW? Many small labs are now dormant for 10 months. Why can't you distribute the management of building access in a federated manner at the division level and prioritize on a per building basis while keeping participation voluntary?
12 What is the point of the vaccine if you can still get and transmit the virus after being vaccinated?
11 Is consideration being given to requiring civil servants to be vaccinated?
11 If NASA decides that a vaccine is required before returning to work and an individual experiences a negative response, will any required time off and treatment be covered by workers compensation?
11 Will vaccinated persons get early consideration for return to work on site?
11 What happens if a vaccine is administered to someone infected with COVID-19, the common cold or flu, but hasn't yet developed symptoms of these illnesses?
11 What are the possible latent side-effects, such as future cancers?
10 Will contractors, who have been reporting on-site continuously since March, be vaccinated on-site, with priority, since our presence has been deemed essential? If not, why, and if the answer is associated with flu vaccination policy, my response is this isn't the flu, and historically certain employees were required to be vaccinated for yellow fever to support TAL site contingency support certifications, which were done on-site. It seems as if the agency is being inconsistent in policy.
10 For NASA, getting vaccine is on a state-by-state basis, so it's possible that one center could get it and others not, right?
10 I am a contractor - Will this vaccine be mandatory to work onsite as I am not comfortable in receiving ANY vaccines that have not been out long enough to have long-term studies. I prefer to wait until a year or so. I have no problem in wearing masks, sanitizing, being distant.
9 How quickly does HR/Management advise employees exposed to Covid by co-workers before or after the vaccine? This will determine my comfort level before returning to work on lab.
9 Is JPL covered by NASA? If so, does the same apply to Caltech?
9 Have any other vaccines been developed this fast? If so, what are they and what are the statistical details of the trials and ultimate distribution to the public?
9 Should pregnant women be given the vaccine?
9 Can management please let us know an approximate time when they anticipate us coming back to work on Center? The only message I have ever heard is we will be teleworking for "quite a while." If you expect that we wont be back on Center in 2021 please just say so. Thank you
8 why is there such a short limit on characters to submit questions. some important questions require more words to ask...
8 If an employee is vaccinated, can they be waived out of the daily temperature screening?
8 Where do mission essential operations employees fall on the list of priorities for vaccines?
8 If NASA and all centers get access to the COVID vaccine wouldn't it make sense to have those employees that travel out of state or international to be among the first to receive the vaccine?
8 Do any of the vaccine manufacturers have any affiliation with China?
8 Will this plan be the same after a new administration?
8 What is the window for adverse reaction after an inoculation? What is the longest period of time ever recorded between inoculation and adverse reaction?
8 Did the U.S. government offer any "incentives" to vaccine manufacturers that create of conflicts of interest?
8 How do the vaccines affect fertility?
8 Will there be guidance for those who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant? Delayed vaccination, extended WFH, etc...
8 Are we to trust vaccine makers in a period of history when the media is censored and the health industry is captured by corporations? Will those of you talking down to the rest of us simply scoff at the evidence of vaccine deaths.
7 Will GSFC personnel (CS and Contractor) who are required to travel for work be prioritized for vaccination?
7 Will the Center (and Agency) track metrics on number of employees (CS and Contractors) that have received the vaccine?
7 How will vaccines be administered for off-site & out of state employees/contractors?
7 What aspects regarding the rapid development, testing, and approval are different from normal vaccine development?
7 What precisely are the statistical details of the vaccine trials?
7 NASA's seemingly endless policy of forced work-from-home is now causing the agency to lose valuable employees as several have quit due to the unfair and unscientific policy of continuing to force people to be isolated at home. When is NASA going to start treating their employees like adults again and allow them to make their own decision whether they want to return to the office or not?
6 What consideration will NASA give to employees (CS & contractor) required to report onsite at all stages of the pandemic?
6 Is there a specific age group that has vaccination priority?
6 Some us have been working onsite on essential projects during the whole pandemic. Don't you think NASA should provide COVID19 vaccines for those doing essential work?
6 Is there protocol in place, in case, the vaccine doesn't help anyone?
6 How can anyone receiving these vaccines be assured they were properly handled while in transit?
6 Are vaccines created by other countries reliable and safe? If not, what happens when a person is inoculated with a foreign and U.S. vaccine?
6 After I've received the first shot, am I guaranteed to receive the second shot on time?
6 How is the Agency addressing the fact that some of its employees continue to promulgate quack science and COVID-related conspiracy theories in these type of forums?
6 Will my religious rights be violated if I refuse to take the vaccine based on religious exemption?
5 Will employees whose tasks include regular travel be prioritized in receiving the vaccine?
5 After having taken the vaccine, can employees engage in activities requiring close contact where masks are difficult, such as suited testing, prior to the Center officially reaching Phase 1?
5 How will vaccinations be handled for new employees/contractor that started during the lockdown, work remotely, and live outside the DC/MD area?
5 Was the COVID-19 vaccine development similar in any way to what is done for flu vaccines? If so, how? How is it different?
5 If we choose to be vaccinated through our medical provider will we have to show proof of vaccination before being allowed to return to Ames?
5 What if I am allergic to eggs?
5 How will the vaccine manufacturers ensure that no repeat of the Cutter Incident can occur?
5 What exactly is the process by which the vaccine works?
5 Can these vaccines be given with other vaccines, like the flu vaccine?
5 What are the limits and equities that we should understand surrounding a determination on mandatory vaccination?
4 When will those over 65+ get the vaccine?
4 Some JWST folks are traveling to LA for testing. Shouldn't they get priority in getting vaccinated?
4 Have any of our employee rights been changed? Will General Counsel protect NASA against my ability to sue my workplace for negligence?
4 What percentage of adverse reactions is considered acceptable, allowing inoculations to continue?
4 Can we install COVIDWISE on our NASA cellphones?
4 Will the centers distribute vaccines to employess?
4 Will I be required to work from on-site office even if all my work is by computer and does not need me to be in office?
4 Why is there such a discrepancy between centers distributing information and also distributing the vaccine? I work with other centers and there is disinformation. Additionally some centers (JSC) is getting vaccines on site when there are others that haven't received any information.
3 Are MSFC interns allowed to get the vaccine at the same time as MSFC employees?
3 In addition to efficacy, are they safe?
3 Was gene editing like CRISPR and others used to create these vaccines?
3 Were tests and trials done on unhealthy individuals? If so, what are those statistics?
3 Will NASA leadership show their vaccination to the employees to prove to us the vaccine NASA is getting is safe?
3 Will the vaccine be offered to pregnant, trying to get pregnant, and breast feeding women? A lot of places are not offering this
3 Are our astronauts a priority? I'd gladly give up my vaccination spot for them.
3 Does my NASA medical office have the ability to store vaccine doses for innoculation?
3 Are student interns eligible for COVID-19 Vaccines?
3 Will unvaccinated people be allowed to enter the lab or return to work?
3 For Dr. Polk/Dr. Michaud: As people across the nation and the world are given the vaccine, any indication when health experts will have data regarding the efficacy of the vaccine?
3 What is a vaccine? This and more at 6pm CT/7pm ET, stay tunned!
3 A follow-up to the question: "Will we be allowed to remain teleworking if we are not comfortable returning to the center (for personal or medical reasons)?" --> Will the employees with "medical conditions which might be exacerbated with COVID risk" need to submit a reasonable accommodation to request for continuation of full-time telework when their designated center is in stage 1 or 0 when they are/may be required to return to on-site?
3 Will we receive excused leave to get vaccinated and for the day or days after receiving the vaccine to recover from possible effects?
3 Certain versions of the vaccine were developed using fetal cell lines, which many find morally objectionable. Will employees have an opportunity to choose to receive a version of the vaccine that comports with their moral principles?
3 Once a vaccine is available to NASA employees, will household family members also be eligible to receive it?
3 Can NASA be held liable if a co-worker fails to wear a mask at work, and refuses to be vaccinated, and passes it on to another employee?
2 We've heard about an increased risk of MIS-C in children if they catch COVID. Does this risk decrease with the vaccination or is it directly related to their case/symptoms?
2 Will vaccinated children be able to return to vaccinated childhood development centers?
2 Are spouses of eligible DC workers able to get vaccinations too, even if they don't work in DC?
2 Will it be available first-come first-served, or will priority be given to those 65+ and with underlying health conditions?
2 When will NASA be offering COVID-19 vaccines to individuals who qualify under group 1B for pre-existing/underlying health conditions, but are not over age 65?
2 Will HQ/Centers will be vaccinating at some point? If so, when, what category, and including contractors?
2 If Goddard is able to distribute the vaccination, will this be for civil servants or contractor as well? And will there be any order in which they are given?
2 If 20% or more with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, are there risks of a person with an active infection receiving the vaccine?
2 Can NASA put together some training on vaccine science, epidemiology, and the efficacy of basic hygiene?
2 I attended a meeting where it was rumored that there is a possible serious side effects to the vaccine, if the person has established allergies or other health problems like auto-immune deficiencies. Is there any truth to these side effects and how serious?
1 If NASA is considering administering the vaccine to personnel, can you consider the Centers having a drive through process where we don't need to exit our cars? Since you have to wait 10-15 minutes after the shot to see if there is a reaction, people could pull off to a close by parking area to wait their time before leaving.
1 Do you know when vaccinations will be available to residence of MD even if it is not available to Goddard for distribution?
1 If NASA is distributing the vaccine, will they allow family members of employees to receive the vaccine?
1 If NASA centers intend to provide and administer the vaccine will I still have to take it even though I have had anaphylactic reactions to two different classes of antibiotics in the past?
1 Are COVID vaccines even necessary? Can you prevent/fight off the virus using Vit. D, Vit. C, and Zinc supplements?

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on January 14, 2021 12:00 PM.

Full-Blown Space Command Food Fight Underway was the previous entry in this blog.

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