Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Feb 15
Posted on February 19, 2021
Despite winter weather delaying vaccine delivery during the week of Feb. 15, nearly 1.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Michigan as of Feb. 18, according to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard. The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.
Vaccine Distribution Continues, New Groups Eligible for Vaccination
While the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) had hoped the winter storm that hit much of the nation would not delay vaccine deliveries in Michigan, there was ultimately a reduction in the number of doses that arrived during the week of Feb. 15 at hospitals, county health departments and other vaccination centers in the state due to shipping difficulties. Moderna’s distribution center in Memphis was particularly impacted, and no vaccine was shipped from there Feb. 15-17. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with McKesson and its shipping partners to resume operations and clear the expected backlog of orders when the weather clears and the vaccines can be safely delivered. The MDHHS is communicating with the CDC and will provide further updates when available. Members with questions may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.
Meanwhile, the CDC has updated its vaccine system to reflect the sixth dose of vaccine available in vials from Pfizer. The state is also updating the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) to reflect the sixth dose. Providers who are unable to draw a sixth dose from a vial should mark that dose as lost or wasted in MCIR. The Pfizer vaccine is now being shipped with the appropriate number of syringes to extract the sixth dose from each vial.
In a Feb. 15 news release, the MDHHS announced it is opening COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to additional categories of residents. Details on these efforts will be released in an upcoming frequently asked questions document from the department. Additional essential workers who are eligible include mortuary service workers and food manufacturing/processing workers. The MDHHS also will allocate vaccine to federally qualified health centers for administration to underserved and minority populations age 65 and over.
The state is launching an effort to reach certain vulnerable populations age 60 and up, especially those high on the social vulnerability index, using part of Michigan’s allocation for the effort. Providers that wish to vaccinate these groups should create and document by March 1 specific strategies and tactics to reach the most vulnerable populations. The MDHHS will issue a notice to providers about the process details to participate in this effort.
The MDHHS has advised all providers to label vaccines as first or second doses upon arrival to ensure second doses aren’t misused. Providers with questions or concerns on the receipt of second doses should contact Terri Adams at the MDHHS.
The state has made no official changes in isolation protocols for patients with the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant. Providers and health departments should aggressively pursue existing public health practices such as contact tracing, case investigation and more for known cases of infection with variants of the virus.
Federal Government Distributes Additional Vaccine
The federal government continues to supply certain vaccination providers with vaccine, independent of the vaccines overseen by the MDHHS.
Skilled nursing facilities in the state have completed first dose clinics and 90% of second dose clinics. Other long-term care facilities are conducting clinics with a variety of pharmacy partners.
The recently implemented retail pharmacy program is continuing with weekly distribution of small quantities to retail pharmacy locations. These locations have been instructed by the federal government to target vulnerable populations.
The CDC has begun to distribute vaccines directly to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). These vaccines are provided in addition to those the state is distributing to FQHCs. The CDC will keep the MDHHS informed about these allocations to ensure coordination and awareness of what these locations are receiving.
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Review to Begin
The Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will convene Feb. 26 to discuss the emergency use authorization (EUA) application by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Initial results from J&J show that the vaccine is 72% effective in the United States and 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 28 days post-vaccination. More importantly, it is 85% effective overall in preventing severe disease and demonstrated complete protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death 28 days post-vaccination.
Because the J&J vaccine is less effective than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, there is growing sentiment among the public that the J&J vaccine is inferior. It is important that providers begin planning to address the concerns of patients now and to stress that, once approved, the J&J vaccine is an effective tool at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. The single-dose option should also prove valuable when targeting harder-to-reach populations.
Once an EUA is granted, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will review the data and make recommendations on how the vaccine should be used. Following approval by the CDC director, the J&J vaccine can be distributed publicly.
CDC Updates Interim Clinical Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccines
The CDC recently released updates to the Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines. It is important to review these updates and bookmark the clinical considerations guidance, as it provides important information on the recommendations and use of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Complete details are in the guidance regarding the following changes in the document, which was updated Feb. 10:
- Updated recommendations for preventing, reporting and managing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine administration errors (Appendix A).
- Clarification on contraindications and precautions.
- Updated information on delayed, local injection-site reactions after the first mRNA vaccine dose.
- Updated quarantine recommendations for vaccinated persons.
- Information and updated recommendations for testing for tuberculosis infection.
Behavioral Health Grants Available for COVID-19 Healthcare Workers
Front-line healthcare workers impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis can apply for copayment assistance through a new HealthWell fund for behavioral health treatments. HealthWell will provide up to $2,000 in financial assistance over a 12-month period for out-of-pocket treatment copayments for prescription drugs, counseling services, psychotherapy and transportation to manage COVID-19-related behavioral health issues. Healthcare workers who have annual household incomes up to 500% of the federal poverty threshold are eligible. HealthWell, an independent nonprofit organization, provides financial assistance to underinsured adults and children when gaps in their insurance result in out-of-pocket medical expenses.
MDHHS to Conduct Virtual Town Hall Feb. 25
The state of Michigan is hosting a COVID-19 vaccine virtual town hall focused on minority communities from 4 to 5 p.m. Feb. 25 through Facebook Live on the MDHHS Facebook page. It will be moderated by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and will feature a variety of speakers, including Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health at the MDHHS. This event is part of a series of virtual town halls that provide residents the opportunity to hear about the safety, efficacy and importance of the COVID-19 vaccine for safely opening Michigan. The subject of the Feb. 25 town hall supports the state vaccine strategy goal to eliminate disparity in vaccination rates across racial and ethnic groups or by social vulnerability index. Participants are encouraged to submit questions on this topic prior to the discussion.
Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).
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