Vaccine Information is Developing Rapidly

The MHA and other stakeholder organizations are prepared to promote events to vaccinate community members against the flu, helping ensure that residents are fully aware of their availability. MHA members that will host or participate in flu vaccine events/clinics are encouraged to share the event details to allow the MHA and interested partners to boost their visibility.

Meanwhile, the MHA and its members have been in frequent contact with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on issues related to COVID-19 vaccines. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to soon issue emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for vaccines developed by drug companies Pfizer and Moderna.

The MDHHS has provided updates on COVID-19 vaccines based on the Dec. 1 meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and updated CDC documents. Members are encouraged to review the documents, which will be updated as vaccine information becomes available, for guidance on staff education, storage, data reporting and more. In addition, members should monitor the frequent vaccine updates available in the CDC’s vaccine storage and handling toolkit.

The ACIP recommended that healthcare personnel and long-term care facility (LTCF) residents be included in priority group 1a for vaccination, and this will be considered as Michigan finalizes state priority groups. LTCF residents and LTCF healthcare workers will be vaccinated by LTCF pharmacy partners (largely CVS Health and Walgreens).

The number of vaccine doses that will be shipped has not been finalized. The state is working to ensure that distribution of vaccine to health systems and hospitals is as equitable as possible based on number of employees and storage capacity. The earliest tentative shipping dates are Dec. 15 for the Pfizer vaccine and Dec. 22 for the Moderna preparation. These dates could change based on the timing of the FDA and ACIP final approvals. Initial shipments should be used to administer first doses of the vaccines; facilities will receive second doses for those individuals in separate shipments that will arrive prior to the recommended vaccine administration “gaps” of 21 days for the Pfizer injections and 28 days for the Moderna shot. Hospitals that have vaccine-eligible employees who work in Michigan facilities but reside in another state may receive their vaccine at the Michigan-based hospital.

The MHA is preparing a frequently asked questions document that will answer questions about the vaccines, and additional tools for use in education, responding to the media, and more will be provided in the coming weeks.

For insurance billing purposes, current procedural terminology (CPT) codes have been issued for COVID-19 vaccines that will take effect after the FDA has issued EUAs for the vaccines. Providers may not deny any recipient the vaccine due to their coverage status or ability to pay, and recipients may not be balance billed. Additional coverage details are available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Vaccine recipients must be given information on what vaccine they received, when the second dose is due, and details about the vaccine and potential side effects. In addition, vaccine administration data must be entered into the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) within 24 hours of being given to the recipient, including weekends and holidays.

To assist in ensuring residents receive the necessary second dose of the vaccines, MCIR plans to launch a text service to issue reminders to vaccine recipients. However, providers are encouraged to use their electronic health record systems or other means of reminding patients of their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The MHA will continue to meet regularly with MDHHS immunization leaders to share hospital questions/concerns, receive planning updates and more. The association will keep members apprised of new information as it is received. Members with questions regarding vaccines should contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.