Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of May 3

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Coronavirus UpdateAs of May 6, more than 7.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Michigan, and more than 51% of Michigan adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine. 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.

Pediatric, Primary Care Providers Should Prepare to Give Adolescent Vaccinations

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) to administer the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 12-15 as early as the week of May 10. Pediatric and primary care settings that wish to participate in the vaccine program are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible to ensure they are prepared to appropriately receive, store, track and administer vaccines for adolescents.

In response to this impending expansion, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced it has designated “Pfizer Regional Hubs” across the state to support efforts to make the vaccine available to 12- to 15-year-olds. These local health departments will maintain stock of Pfizer vaccine to share with COVID-19 vaccine providers that can manage it appropriately. Hospitals that need the Pfizer vaccine to offer to Michiganders ages 12 through 17 may request a supply from the Immunization Action Plan Coordinator at these hubs, which include:

  1. Grand Traverse Health Department
  2. Ingham County Health Department
  3. Kalamazoo Health Department
  4. Kent County Health Department (Fuller)
  5. Marquette Health Department
  6. Oakland Health Division
  7. Saginaw County Health Department
  8. Sanilac County Health Department
  9. Wayne County Health Department

It is the requestor’s responsibility to contact the regional hub to assess vaccine availability and to perform appropriate transport of vaccine for redistribution. Contact information for all local health departments is available online. The requestor is also responsible for ensuring the site is enrolled as a Michigan COVID-19 Vaccination Provider; has a redistribution agreement in place with the regional hub; and can meet all requirements for vaccine transport, storage, handling and documentation.

The MHA will keep members apprised of developments on the expansion of the Pfizer vaccine EUA. Vaccine-related questions may be directed to Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Medicare Payments Increased for mAb Therapies

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced an increase in the Medicare payment rate for administering monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment to COVID-19 patients, effective May 6. The payment rate will increase 45%, from $310 to $450, for most healthcare settings. The CMS will also establish a $750 payment rate for this service when administered in the patient’s home or other temporary residence. Patients will incur no out-of-pocket cost for these services. Members with questions about these payments may contact Jason Jorkasky at the MHA.

A recording of a recent webinar explaining the operational processes required to provide mAb therapy is available online. Cohosted by the MHA and the MDHHS, the hour-long webinar reviewed a variety of resources for providers interested in providing the treatments. To receive copies of these documents, contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

Pfizer, Moderna Seek Full FDA Approval of Their COVID-19 Vaccines

Pfizer has asked the FDA for full approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 16 and over, which would allow the manufacturer to market the vaccine directly to the public. Pfizer is now studying the vaccine in children as young as 6 months and has said it expects more results from these studies by September.

According to news reports, Pfizer has shared data with the FDA about the vaccine’s long-term effectiveness and possible changes in handling requirements, such as evidence that the vaccine can be refrigerated for longer periods, rather than requiring ultra-cold storage temperatures.

Moderna has also requested full FDA approval of its vaccine, which is currently approved for ages 18 and older. It is currently studying the vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds. In addition, Moderna has shared promising updates from its study of a booster of its vaccine to help prevent some of the most contagious variants of the virus.

While FDA approval reviews typically take six months or more, the agency could act quickly on approving the vaccines, since they had already received emergency authorization. The MHA will keep members apprised of this issue as it develops. For more information on vaccines, contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

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).