Michaela Almgren already has two jobs, but in recent months, she’s found herself appointed to a third: COVID-19-vaccine information hub.
A foot in each world: A pharmacist by training, Almgren divides her time between the University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy, where she is an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences, and Nephron Pharmaceuticals, where she is clinical adviser and pharmacy student internship director.
- Owing to her impressive background in drug formulation and analytical method development as a hospital pharmacist, as well as her skills as a lecturer, Almgren has also become a sort of de facto conspiracy-theory debunker when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination.
A go-to for facts: In recent months, in her capacity as both a professor and a Nephron employee, Almgren has given lectures and presentations about COVID-19, its variants and the vaccines—and she’s had significant follow-up questions from audience members. So many, in fact, that colleagues and others she has met teaching and at manufacturing gatherings have come to see her as a voice of reason capable of cutting through the noise.
- “A lot of people just fall into this misinformation mill” about the vaccine, Almgren said. “Typing in something like ‘Dangerous COVID-19 vaccine’ will give you this feed of articles, but it doesn’t mean the vaccine is dangerous.… That’s just how these [search engines] work.”
Convincing and calm: Almgren has been the impetus for the vaccination of several employees at Nephron, which has a 100% vaccination rate.
- “They’d say, ‘Thank you for talking with me. I was unsure about the vaccine, and it made me nervous, but talking with you made me feel that it was OK.’”
Fact vs. fiction: Almgren shared some of the top vaccine-related myths she’s successfully debunked during presentations and other conversations.
- “They have long-term side effects.” Fact: “This is where I talk about how these [vaccine] components don’t stay in your body more than 72 hours. The idea is just to elicit an immune response, and then it’s gone. And think about it on a global scale. If it was so deadly and terrible, by now we would see millions of people dropping dead or getting really sick” as a direct result.
- “They were rushed to market.” Fact: “When you actually look at how the clinical trial was defined, it was very similar to any other clinical trials for other vaccines. No shortcuts were taken. They just compressed the studies and ran them simultaneously.”
- “They’re not safe for kids.” Fact: “As a parent, I can totally understand why people would be concerned” about the vaccine for children, Almgren said. “But the clinical trial is out there, released and published in terms of how Pfizer did it. The data is clear showing the efficacy is there, and the side effects are minimal. If you have no issue with the polio vaccine or the tetanus shot, why is COVID-19 any different?”
- “Natural immunity is better.” Fact: “Natural immunity can be further boosted with the vaccine, and it wanes more than vaccine-induced immunity,” Almgren said. People who have had COVID-19 and get vaccinated “have an even stronger [immune] response.”
The last word: Check out the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s This Is Our Shot initiative to find out how you can protect yourself and the people you care about from COVID-19.
ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The National Association of Manufacturers announced today that it will offer an association health plan to its members, extending affordable health care to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies and member associations in approved states. In states where the association health plan is not available, the NAM will connect manufacturers with available small-group options in their state.
“This association health plan is another step in our work to make the NAM a one-stop shop for manufacturing across the United States,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “With small and medium-sized businesses making up more than 90 percent of our membership, this plan will help provide health care and reduce uncertainty for workers and their employers across the country.”
The plan, called NAM Health Care (www.namhealthcare.com), was developed to meet manufacturers’ unique health care needs. It will offer a portfolio of health benefits options insured by UnitedHealthcare. In states where these plans are available, businesses with 2 to 99 employees will be able to choose from a variety of PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) and HSA (Health Savings Account) health plans. Members will also have access to UnitedHealthcare’s Choice Plus care provider network of more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare will work with any licensed or appointed agents who want to sell NAM Health Care.
In addition, Mercer will provide the NAM’s small business members with consulting services regarding health benefits offerings and contribution strategies, marketing support to educate and enroll their employees, plan administration and compliance services. The Mercer Affinity 365+sm platform will provide members technology for quoting, enrollment and ongoing benefits administration to drive cost efficiencies and facilitate employee engagement.
Association health plans allow companies to band together to manage and purchase health care coverage that may save on annual health insurance costs by providing plans that are typically enjoyed by larger companies at a competitive price. Under NAM Health Care, eligible member companies also will have access to supplemental benefits, including dental, vision and life.
“The work that manufacturers are doing every day grows the economy and strengthens our country, and they deserve the health care they need to do that job with certainty and support,” said Timmons. “At the NAM, we are proud to help lower costs and increase competitive health coverage for the men and women who make things in America.”
NAM Health Care is quoting these plans for eligible member groups for a Sept. 1, 2019, enrollment date. To enroll in these plans, where available, interested businesses may visit www.namhealthcare.com.