The Tucson Metro Chamber gathered some of Tucson’s top experts in the fields of pharmaceuticals, public policy, healthcare and employment law to provide in-depth answers to many questions related to the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as your related role as an employer or employee. This virtual forum was moderated by Linda Welter, Founder, Co-owner & CEO of Caliber Group. The esteemed panel included: 

Our panelists included:
  • Dr. Matt Heinz | District 2 Pima County Board of Supervisors and MD at Tucson Medical Center
  • Sandra Leal | Executive Vice President for SinfoniaRx and President-elect of the American Pharmacists Association
  • Tim Medcoff | Co-Managing Partner at Farhang & Medcoff
  • Julia Strange | CEO of Benson Hospital and Vice President, Community Benefit at Tucson Medical Center

The Chamber encourages anyone in our community and beyond to take the time to watch the video in its entirety. The list below includes some of the key takeaways of information that can be used as individuals make the personal choice in receiving the vaccine.
Dr. Sandra Leal’s key comments
  • Even with a vaccine, wearing masks and other CDC-recommended safety measures should still be implemented. Even though you are protected, you can still be a carrier.
  • Monitor vaccine safety with the v-safe app.
  • The vaccine should be offered regardless of whether you have already had COVID-19.
  • Wearing two masks provides 70% greater protection and wearing three masks gives 90%
  • Research may reveal that an annual vaccine or booster may be recommended.
  • Since the longevity of antibodies varies greatly, the vaccine is still recommended, especially for herd immunity, for those who have already contracted COVID-19.
Dr. Matt Heinz’s key comments
  • Even with the vaccine, it may take several more months for positive cases to significantly drop.
  • Pima County is expected to eventually be able to provide 10,000 vaccines a day.
  • The second vaccine shot should be as close as possible to the recommended schedule, although it doesn’t have to be down to the hour.
  • Recommended website:
  • Call Pima County hotline: (520) 222-0119 with English and Spanish options (8 a.m. – 8 p.m.)
Julia Strange’s key comments
  • 75% of the TMC staff has been vaccinated so they can stay on the front line where they are needed.
  • TMC HealthCare has partnered with Higher Ground to help students with online learning and with Pima Council on Aging to help the over 75-year-old population get their vaccines.
  • An equitable process for distributing the vaccine is a top priority.
  • As of early February, there are 60 retailers throughout the state and six in Pima County that can administer the vaccine.
  • The vaccination is free. Be aware of scams that charge for it.
Timothy Medcoff’s key comments
  • Employers can require that employees get the vaccine although it is a best practice to provide different accommodations for employees with a legitimate disability, religious reason or for a unionized workforce to avoid unexpected legal bills. Liability insurance is recommended.
  • An employee cannot refuse to report for work if they are an essential worker and the work can’t be performed remotely.
  • Employers with more than 15 employees must engage in the interactive process under the Americans With Disabilities Act if an employee has a legitimate medical condition that could be impacted by contracting COVID-19 or by receiving the vaccine but fear alone doesn’t justify refusing to work.
  • Recommended website for myths and facts about the vaccine:
  • Employees with potential exposure should stay home, contact their doctor and tell their supervisor.
  • Employers need to ask employee’s permission to use their name for contact tracing. Contact tracing should still be done even if the employee would rather remain anonymous. Other employees should be notified of the situation and encouraged to call their doctors for guidance.