COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Since the beginning of this pandemic, the ATU has been fighting to protect the safety and health of our members and the communities we serve. We have lost far too many members to this terrible pandemic. However, we have saved many more by winning important safety and health protections.

In no small part, our efforts have been designed to buy time until safe and effective vaccines became available. That time has arrived. The vaccines have been approved through a rigorous, open and transparent review process by independent scientific and public health experts after numerous multi-phase clinical trials of tens of thousands of people. The COVID-19 vaccines are a vital tool to reduce and eliminate this deadly virus.

We must now work to ensure mass participation in vaccination programs by transit workers in order to protect ourselves, our coworkers, our families, our communities and the transit industry.

  

ATU COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

ATU is committed to educating transit workers regarding the development of COVID-19 vaccines, vaccination programs for essential workers, and current information on vaccine distribution. Download a PDF of each vaccine’s FAQ at the following links:

Pfizer and Moderna (PDF)  |  Johnson & Johnson (PDF)  |  AstraZeneca (PDF)

*FAQ Information Updated: April 29, 2021

Please refer to CDC and Health Canada resources for the latest information regarding approved COVID-19 vaccines in the United States and Canada.


Vaccination Updates

On April 23, 2021, the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization updated its guidance for use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, recommending that the vaccine be administered only to adults aged 30 and older due to extremely rare reports of blood clots associated with low levels of blood platelets. Health Canda has not placed restrictions on the vaccine’s use in adults and provinces will determine the availability of the AstraZeneca vaccine to their own demographic groups.

On April 23, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and FDA restated that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is safe and effective, lifted the temporary pause, and authorized its continued use in the United States. Vaccine documentation for providers and recipients has been updated based on extremely rare reports of blood clots and low blood platelets.

Should transit workers get vaccinated?

Yes. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family, your coworkers, your community, and the transit industry from COVID-19.

We all have a part to play in ending this pandemic.

ATU is following the guidance of medical and health experts who recommend widespread vaccination, in addition to our other tools, such as masks and social distancing, to help bring an end to this terrible pandemic. But the vaccines will only be as effective as the number of people who get them. Widespread participation is vitally important to get our countries back to normal. Through vaccination we can prevent more illness and death, protect our families, and soon welcome riders back to our transit systems.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Pfizer and Moderna (U.S. and Canada)

Yes. Every study, every phase, and every trial of the approved Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been reviewed by the FDA, Health Canada, and safety review boards. None of the vaccine trials have reported any serious safety concerns.

Large trials were conducted by medical and health experts.

The approved vaccines have been developed through a transparent and rigorous process that included more than 73,000 trial participants from around the world. More than 25,000 people from the communities most impacted by COVID-19, including Black, Latino, and older people, participated in these trials.

Talk to your doctor.

If you are concerned about a personal health condition or medication interactions; if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; or, if you have a history of severe allergic reaction to injectables or vaccines, you should discuss vaccination with your doctor.

You might experience minor side effects.

Any vaccine or medication can cause side effects. You might experience side effects following your first or second dose of the approved vaccines, however these are usually minor, such as a sore arm or low-grade fever, and go away within a few days. Severe allergic reactions from the approved vaccines are very rare. The approved vaccines do not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cannot infect you with COVID-19.

Johnson & Johnson (U.S. and Canada)

Yes. Every study and every phase of the trial for the approved Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been reviewed by the FDA. No serious safety concerns were reported. On April 23, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and FDA restated that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is safe and effective, lifted the temporary pause, and authorized its continued use in the United States. Vaccine documentation for providers and recipients has been updated based on extremely rare reports of blood clots and low blood platelets.

Large trials were conducted by medical and health experts.

The approved vaccine has been developed through a transparent and rigorous process that included almost 45,000 trial participants from around the world. Significant percentages of people from the communities most impacted by COVID-19, including Black, Latino, and older people, participated in the trial.

Talk to your doctor.

If you are concerned about a personal health condition or medication interactions; if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; or, if you have a history of severe allergic reaction to injectables or vaccines, you should discuss vaccination with your doctor.

You might experience minor side effects.

Any vaccine or medication can cause side effects. You might experience side effects following your dose of the approved vaccine, however these are usually minor, such as a sore arm or low-grade fever, and go away within a few days. No severe allergic reactions were reported during the trial, and they are expected to be very rare. The approved vaccine does not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cannot infect you with COVID-19.

AstraZeneca (Canada)

Yes. Every study and every phase of the trials for the approved AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have been reviewed by Health Canada. No serious safety concerns were reported. On April 23, 2021, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine be administered only to adults aged 30 and older due to extremely rare reports of blood clots associated with low levels of blood platelets, however Health Canda has not placed restrictions on the vaccine’s use in adults. Provinces will determine the availability of the AstraZeneca vaccine to their own demographic groups.

Large trials were conducted by medical and health experts.

The approved vaccine has been developed through a transparent and rigorous process that included a diverse group of over 11,000 trial participants from the UK and Brazil. Adults that faced high potential for exposure to COVID-19, including health care and other social setting workers, were prioritized for participation in the trials.

Talk to your doctor.

If you are concerned about a personal health condition or medication interactions; if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; or, if you have a history of severe allergic reaction to injectables or vaccines, you should discuss vaccination with your doctor.

You might experience minor side effects.

Any vaccine or medication can cause side effects. You might experience side effects following your first or second dose of the approved vaccine, however these are usually minor, such as a sore arm or low-grade fever, and go away within a few days. No severe allergic reactions were reported during the trials, and they are expected to be very rare. The approved vaccine does not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cannot infect you with COVID-19.

Are COVID-19 vaccines effective?

Pfizer and Moderna (U.S. and Canada)

Yes. The approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be about 95% effective at preventing both mild and severe illness caused by COVID-19. That level of protection did not vary across age groups, gender, or racial demographics in trials. You should take the vaccine even if you have previously been infected by COVID-19 because we aren’t sure how long your natural immunity will last.

Protection takes time.

The approved vaccines require two doses to be given several weeks apart, and it does take time for immunity to build up in your body. Protection against illness does not start until about two weeks after the first dose and the vaccines are not fully effective until about a week after the second dose. Right now, we do not know how long someone is protected from COVID-19 after vaccination and this is the subject of additional studies. Booster shots might be required in the future.

The virus is constantly evolving.

Scientists are working to determine how effective approved COVID-19 vaccines will be against new variants of the virus that have been recently discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and elsewhere. While it appears that existing vaccines, including Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, will provide protection against illness, booster shots for specific variants could be required in the future. Rapid vaccination and continued use of prevention measures are still important to limit the spread of, and illness caused by, COVID-19.

Johnson & Johnson (U.S. and Canada)

Yes. In the United States, the approved Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been shown to be about 72% effective at preventing illness from COVID-19, and 86% effective against severe forms of COVID-19. No one who received the vaccine died from COVID-19. That level of protection was generally consistent across age groups, gender, and racial demographics in trial. You should take the vaccine even if you have previously been infected by COVID-19 because we aren’t sure how long your natural immunity will last.

Protection takes time.

The approved vaccine requires only one dose, but it does take time for immunity to build up in your body. Protection against illness does not start until about two weeks after the dose and the vaccine is not fully effective until about 4 weeks later. Right now, we do not know how long someone is protected from COVID-19 after vaccination and this is the subject of additional studies. Booster shots might be required in the future.

The virus is constantly evolving.

Scientists are working to determine how effective approved COVID-19 vaccines will be against new variants of the virus that have been recently discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and elsewhere. While it appears that existing vaccines, including Johnson and Johnson’s, will provide protection against illness, booster shots for specific variants could be required in the future. Rapid vaccination and continued use of prevention measures are still important to limit the spread of, and illness caused by, COVID-19.

AstraZeneca (Canada)

Yes. The approved AstraZeneca vaccine has been shown to be about 62% effective at preventing symptoms caused by COVID-19 for adults ages 18-65. No one who received the vaccine died from COVID-19. You should take the vaccine even if you have previously been infected by COVID-19 because we aren’t sure how long your natural immunity will last. Currently, there is not enough evidence to determine the efficacy of the vaccine in adults older than 65, however real-world results in regions where the vaccine has been used suggest that there is a benefit for this age group and that there are no serious safety concerns. As a result, Health Canada has approved the vaccine for use in adults older than 65.

Protection takes time.

The approved vaccine requires two doses to be given four to 12 weeks apart, and it does take time for immunity to build up in your body. Protection against illness does not start until about three weeks after the first dose and the vaccine is not fully effective until about two weeks after the second dose. Right now, we do not know how long someone is protected from COVID-19 after vaccination and this is the subject of additional studies. Booster shots might be required in the future.

The virus is constantly evolving.

Scientists are working to determine how effective approved COVID-19 vaccines will be against new variants of the virus that have been recently discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and elsewhere. While it appears that existing vaccines, including AstraZeneca’s, will provide protection against illness, booster shots for specific variants could be required in the future. Rapid vaccination and continued use of prevention measures are still important to limit the spread of, and illness caused by, COVID-19.

Do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing?

Yes. Stopping the pandemic requires that we use every tool and measure available. All of the approved COVID-19 vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like wearing a mask, social distancing, good ventilation, and regular hand washing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.

We still need to look out for each other.

Trials of all approved vaccines were primarily designed to determine if vaccinated participants were protected from illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They did not determine if participants could contract the virus without symptoms and then spread COVID-19 to others. Medical and health experts are hopeful that vaccinated people won’t be able to spread the virus, but more research is needed. In the meantime, everyone — even vaccinated people — will need to remain vigilant.

When will COVID-19 vaccines be available to transit workers?

Availability of approved COVID-19 vaccines to transit workers will vary widely by state, province, and city. This includes both the number and brand of vaccines at any given location. Individuals will not be able to choose which manufacturer’s vaccine they receive. You should contact your local health department for details about the rollout of vaccines in your area.

Essential transit workers have been prioritized.

The ATU International and ATU Canada called on our federal governments to prioritize transit workers for vaccine access and they listened. The CDC’s scientific advisors recommended that public transit workers be included in Phase 1b of vaccine distribution with other frontline essential workers in the US. In Canada, Health Canada’s advisors recommended that essential workers be included in Stage 2.

States and provinces will make final decisions.

Despite this federal guidance, states and provinces will make final determinations about vaccine distribution. Each jurisdiction is moving through phases at different speeds and prioritizing different parts of the population. In some jurisdictions, ATU members will become eligible for the vaccine due to their age or underlying health conditions before they become eligible as essential transit workers.

The ATU COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ is being offered for informational purposes only. The FAQ is designed to provide general information on vaccines for COVID-19 and their implications for ATU members and our industry. The information contained in the ATU COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You, fellow ATU members and coworkers should always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions concerning COVID-19, vaccines or any other medical issue. You, fellow ATU members and coworkers should not disregard professional medical advice based on something stated in the ATU COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ.

COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization

ATU calls on governors to prioritize transit workers as essential in vaccine distribution

With hundreds of transit workers killed, including 135 ATU members, from COVID-19, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has called on governors across the United States to prioritize frontline transit workers in the first rounds of COVID-19 vaccin­­e distributions.

ATU International President John Costa wrote a letter to every governor to inform them of the request and offer logistical support in vaccine distribution.

Read more.


Canada's Largest Transit Union Calls for Priority Vaccine Access for Frontline Transit Workers

ATU Canada is calling upon the federal and provincial governments to give priority vaccine access to transit workers as the first batches of the COVID-19 vaccines start to be doled out today in Canada.

Transit professionals are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to the COVID-19 virus as a result of their interaction with millions of riders per day. The high volume of interaction has led to more than 3500 ATU transit workers being infected in both Canada and the US.

Read more.


ACIP recommendation that transit workers be prioritized in Phase 1b of vaccine distribution in the US

For more information, please visit the following link. 


NACI recommendation that essential workers be prioritized in Stage 2 of vaccine distribution in Canada

For more information, please visit the following link. 

State and Provincial Vaccine Status

Get more information about vaccine prioritization and distribution in your state 

For more information, please visit the following link. 


Get more information about vaccine prioritization and distribution in your province 

For more information, please visit the following link.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information from the
CDC and Health Canada

Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People (CDC)

For more information, please visit the following link.  (Español)


CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Homepage (CDC)

For more information, please visit the following link.  (Español)


Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine (CDC)

For more information, please visit the following link.  (Español)


Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines (CDC)

For more information, please visit the following link.  (Español)


8 Things to Know about the US COVID-19 Vaccination Program (CDC)

For more information, please visit the following link.  (Español)


COVID-19 Vaccines Overview (Health Canada)

For more information, please visit the following link.


Canada’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan: Saving Lives and Livelihoods (Health Canada)

For more information, please visit the following link.


What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for Canada (Health Canada)

For more information, please visit the following link.



Find out how many people have been vaccinated in the US, Canada, and around the world. 

For more information, please click on the map below.

North American Map