Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Oct. 25

MHA Covid-19 update

The number of Michiganders ages 16 and older who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine reached 69% Oct. 28, according to the state tracker. More than 59% of those ages 12 and up were fully vaccinated as of Oct. 26.

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 for Kids Aged 5-11

An independent panel of experts advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently voted to recommend the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine be used in children aged 5 to 11. The next and final steps before this vaccine can be administered is approval by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose experts are scheduled to meet and vote Nov. 2 and 3. Following their vote, swift action is expected by the CDC director to authorize administration of the vaccine in younger kids. Members are encouraged to watch for updates from the MHA, the state and federal agencies Nov. 3 for details and information about rolling out this vaccine. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Patient/Provider COVID-19 Vaccine Testimonials, Stories Could Save Lives

As the MHA continues public communication efforts to increase the statewide COVID-19 vaccination rate, hospitals and health systems are encouraged to submit stories, quotes, photos and/or video testimonials from clinicians or patients who are willing to advocate for the COVID-19 vaccines. The use of such stories was encouraged by the MHA Board of Trustees to ensure effective messages reach as many vaccine-hesitant people as possible.

Submissions can include clinicians speaking to the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, impactful patient stories (i.e., a change of heart regarding vaccination status) or links to existing media coverage that can be shared across social media. Content can be submitted through Google Form or sent directly to Lucy Ciaramitaro at the MHA. These stories and the organizations that submit them will be featured across all MHA communication vehicles to inspire people who are waiting to be vaccinated.

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 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Oct. 18

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 updateThe 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.

CDC, FDA Approve Moderna and J&J Boosters, Mix and Match Strategy

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Oct. 21 formally endorsed the use of COVID-19 booster shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for some adults. This comes on the heels of the Oct. 20 approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The actions authorize a Moderna booster for people 65 and older and for all adults who either have underlying conditions or work in settings where they’re more likely to be exposed to the virus. Those people may obtain the Moderna booster, which is half the size of each dose used for initial vaccination, six months after completing the primary vaccine series.

The agencies also recommended all adults who received the J&J single-shot vaccine get a booster at least two months post-immunization. In addition, the agencies agreed that people who are eligible can choose any type of booster, regardless of whether they initially received the Pfizer, Moderna or J&J version. This decision may help individuals who have a higher risk of side effects with a particular brand of vaccine.

Healthcare providers are encouraged to continue monitoring for email updates from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Health Alert Network for details regarding booster dose administration. The MDHHS has also posted updated fact sheets for the vaccines on its website for vaccinating providers.

The MHA continues to promote both factual and anecdotal messaging about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. The association is also using messaging on flu vaccines, urging people to get vaccinated and practice smart preventive measures to help avoid “twindemic” status and add to the stress on the healthcare system.

Members with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

MHA Urges Medicaid to Cover Merck COVID-19 Treatment Pill

The MHA submitted comments Oct. 18 to state Medical Services Administration officials, urging them to add molnupiravir, Merck’s new COVID-19 treatment pill, to the Medicaid Health Plan Common Formulary if it is approved by the FDA. The medication has been shown to effectively treat COVID-19 and reduce death and hospitalization. Importantly, it comes in pill form that the patient takes at home, unlike current antibody treatments that must be administered by health and hospital professionals, using time and resources that are currently scarce. The association will keep members apprised of the FDA’s review of the treatment and any action by the state to add it to the Common Formulary.

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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Oct. 11

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA Covid-19 updateAs federal regulatory agencies evaluate COVID-19 vaccine and treatment possibilities, more than 5.5 million Michigan residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine to protect them against the deadly disease, equating to 68.2% of that population as of Oct. 15. Meanwhile, despite the rate of new cases decreasing in many of the states that had been experiencing a surge in hospitalizations and deaths, cases in Michigan have been increasing. Nearly 8,300 new cases were reported for Oct. 14 and 15, with 2,010 adults and 29 children hospitalized in the state Oct. 15. Total deaths in Michigan attributed to confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 21,563 Oct. 15.

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.

Moderna Expiration Date Extended for Frozen Vaccines

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) announced Oct. 13 that Moderna received approval for a two-month extension of FROZEN Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Some lots with an initial expiration of September or October will be extended if stored in frozen stateSeventy-eight lots are impacted by this extension.

The MDHHS does not have a list of these lot numbers, but Moderna is working diligently to get the extended lots updated in their tools and databases, with a priority on older lots first. To look up Moderna expiration, scan the QR code located on the carton or use the company’s expiration date lookup feature on its website. Healthcare providers are encouraged to continue checking these resources to determine whether they have lots that are impacted by this extension. Moderna vaccine should not be disposed of until an accurate expiration date is assessed.

Providers who have vaccines that are unexpired under the extension should update their outbreak inventory in the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) with a new expiration date, following the instructions on the tip sheet How to Correct a COVID-19 Vaccine Expiration Date in the MCIR. Questions about the extension or the MCIR process can be directed to the MDHHS Division of Immunization team. Members with other vaccine-related questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Merck Requests FDA Approval for COVID-19 Treatment Pill

Merck formally requested approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Oct. 13 for a groundbreaking antiviral medication that effectively treats COVID-19. Trials demonstrate the treatment regimen, which comes in pill form that patients can take themselves at home, reduced risk of hospitalization and severe illness by at least 50%.

Approval would add a new effective treatment to providers’ toolboxes in keeping patients with COVID-19 out of the hospital. Unlike currently available antibody treatments that require providers to set up and staff infusion clinics, the pill could help provide relief to providers struggling with staffing and other treatment resources. If approved, the MHA will advocate that all payers, both public and private, cover the drug for all covered lives.

The MHA will keep members apprised of developments on this issue.

CDC Releases Planning Information for Vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued an initial planning document for jurisdictions to prepare for the distribution of vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. The document provides initial information pertaining to pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, as well as several assumptions that can be made about the pediatric COVID-19 vaccination program. Specifically, the document highlights the packaging changes and storage requirements for the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. The Pfizer vaccine for this age group is currently under review at the FDA, and a decision on whether an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the product will be granted is expected in the coming weeks.

Ordering of the Pfizer vaccine and any subsequent pediatric COVID-19 vaccines will begin when the FDA issues an EUA. Vaccine administration will begin once the CDC director makes a determination after reviewing recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The MHA will keep members apprised of developments on the vaccine for younger children. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

U.S. Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Requests Provider Input

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, and the committee’s ranking member Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) are seeking firsthand accounts from individuals and organizations (healthcare providers, state and local governments, first responders, etc.) who experienced challenges securing personal protective equipment and other medical products during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the committee request is open-ended.

This is part of the committee’s ongoing oversight of federal pandemic preparedness and the COVID-19 response. The committee will examine reports of fraud, exploitation, and faulty equipment and medical supplies. To this end, providers can report issues about vendors, counterfeit medical products, price-gouging or other challenges obtaining supplies during the response. The information received will help inform the senators’ bipartisan oversight and efforts to strengthen U.S. medical supply chains, improve emergency preparedness, highlight new and successful supply chain methods, and prevent bad actors from taking advantage of future national crises. Members interested in submitting their experiences can do so online.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpageQuestions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Oct. 4

MHA Monday Report logo

MHA Monday Report logoThe number of Michiganders hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to rise, with 1,811 adults and 35 children confirmed as inpatients Oct. 8. An additional 119 adults and six children were hospitalized with illnesses suspected to be COVID-19. Of that number, 485 adults were in intensive care units and 250 were ventilated.

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.

Pfizer Requests Emergency Use Authorization of COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Oct. 7 that they have submitted a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization in children ages 5-11. The FDA will review the evidence to determine whether the shots are safe and effective for this age group, and an independent expert panel will publicly debate the evidence Oct. 26. From that point, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make their recommendation, and the CDC will make a final decision. If regulators agree, shots could be available to the 5-11 age group within a matter of weeks.

The MHA will keep members informed as new details emerge. Those with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Nursing Care and Recovery Center Applications Re-opened

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently released a new policy bulletin to update regulations from November 2020 that allow COVID Relief Facilities and eligible nursing facilities to retain COVID-19-positive residents. Public Act (PA) 231 of 2020 established criteria under which nursing facilities could care for COVID-19-positive residents, with the statute put into effect through MSA Bulletins 20-73 and 20-78. Facilities designated as Care and Recovery Centers or COVID Relief Facilities will need to apply for that designation on a yearly basis.

Nursing facilities that had not applied for either designation before the Dec. 1, 2020, deadline may now apply if they wish to seek accreditation. Like the previous policy, nursing facilities that have applied for COVID Relief Facility designation but have not yet received approval/denial for participation may continue to care for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Funding Available for Nursing Home Patients Awaiting Transfer

The MDHHS released a template in June to collect information from hospitals about the number of COVID-19-positive nursing facility patients who were retained by hospitals and had less than 72 hours remaining in their isolation period. The MDHHS will provide additional payment to hospitals for qualifying inpatient stays between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2021.

The additional funding was a result of the MHA’s 2020 year-end advocacy efforts that totaled $3.3 million in gross funding for hospitals through Public Act 231 of 2020. The MDHHS will pay hospitals for each qualifying day until the funds are spent and will notify hospitals if the allotted funds for the additional payment are spent prior to the expected eligibility end date. The MHA encourages hospitals to complete and submit the template through the MDHHS File Transfer portal per the department’s instructions to receive the enhanced payment. Although the application period has been open for several months, a significant portion of funding remains available. Members that need a copy of the template may contact Jason Jorkasky 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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Sept. 20

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateThe number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan since the beginning of the pandemic surpassed 1 million Sept. 20 and has continued to rise, hitting 1,008,069 by Sept. 24. Hospitalizations due to confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state have increased from 1,356 adults and 17 children Sept. 17 to 1,467 adults and 27 children Sept. 24. The percentage of Michiganders ages 16 and above who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine has risen slowly in recent weeks to 67.4% as of Sept. 24.

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.

Weekly Allocation Model Set for Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

According to an alert shared Sept. 21 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced it will transition to a weekly allocation strategy for the distribution of monoclonal antibody therapy. The direct ordering feature through AmerisourceBergen has been suspended and will no longer accept orders. Sites that are actively administering monoclonal antibody therapy and need resupply must complete the updated mAb Allocation Request Form in its entirety. The form should be obtained from the MDHHS and submitted to the same address by noon ET each Wednesday to be considered to receive a supply. Submitting sites will be informed of approved product type and quantities upon review.

All sites requesting supply will be required to comply with the following data collection tools. Accurate utilization and inventory data will not only inform the MDHHS allocations and decision making, it will also impact allocations being made at the federal level.

The alert also contained information on redistribution of excess supplies of either of the approved monoclonal antibody therapy products, as well as the following topics.

  • Importance of Racial Equity and Monoclonal Antibody Therapy.
  • Emergency Use Authorization for Bamlanivimab + Etesevimab Expanded to Include Post-Exposure Prophylaxis.
  • Guidelines on Subcutaneous Administration of REGEN-COV Monoclonal Antibody Therapy.
  • Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act Declaration: 9th Amendment.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Authorizes Shelf-Life Extension for Bamlanivimab.

MHA members may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA for more information.

Federal Agencies Grant Full Approval for Booster Shots for Older and At-risk Americans

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) completed the approval processes for providing Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots Sept. 24, authorizing them for people aged 65 and older, long-term care facility residents, people aged 18-64 years old with underlying medical conditions that raise their chances of severe COVID-19, and people at risk because of on-the-job exposure, including healthcare workers.

The FDA earlier officially accepted the recommendations of its independent review panel, which voted to approve the extra shot of Pfizer. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted Sept. 23 to recommend the Pfizer booster, but voted against allowing the booster for those at risk because of on-the-job exposure, which differed from the FDA’s decision Wednesday to allow the booster for people with high-risk jobs. However, the CDC Director made the rare decision to contradict the ACIP’s recommendation and endorsed the use of Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for workers at high risk of severe COVID-19, while formally accepting the remaining recommendations of ACIP for people 65 and older, nursing-home residents and people between 18 and 64 with underlying health conditions.

The CDC stated that providers may administer the booster dose of Pfizer to previous recipients of the Pfizer two-dose series who qualify (by age or health/risk status). The booster dose shouldn’t be administered until at least six months have passed since the recipient completed the two-dose primary series. Healthcare workers do qualify based on their regular exposure to the virus. There is no specific definition of healthcare worker in the authorization. Healthcare organizations and facilities have discretion to determine who in their settings should be able to receive the booster.

At this time, no other brand of vaccine is approved for an additional dose, though that is likely to change in the months ahead as more data becomes available.

The MDHHS has advised that health systems/hospitals should work to provide the booster to their own employees and to their patients to whatever degree is possible. Members should watch for MI Health Alert Network communications in the coming days for more information about the rollout of these Pfizer doses. Members can also regularly check the CDC’s Pfizer website for updated clinical information about the booster and the administration of these doses.

Members with vaccine questions may 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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Sept. 13

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateCOVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations have continued to climb in Michigan, with 1,356 adults and 17 children hospitalized Sept. 17 with confirmed cases. The total number of confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic began is nearing 1 million, reaching 988,725 cases that had caused 20,665 deaths as of Sept. 17. Meanwhile, by Sept. 16, just 66.7% of Michigan residents ages 16 and over had received at least one dose of a vaccine to combat the illness.

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.

Hospitals May Verify Employee Vaccination Status Through MCIR

The MHA has been working with the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) Division of Immunizations on changes that will allow hospitals to use the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) to verify the COVID-19 vaccination status of employees to comply with state and federal data reporting rules. Hospitals may now use MCIR for this purpose; however, they must submit an additional form. The original MCIR provider agreement was meant for the establishment of a MCIR site for provider/patient relationships and does not cover providers as employers.

Hospitals and health systems that would like to use their existing MCIR site to do employee status checks need to complete the new MCIR Agreement “Provider as Employer” Addendum and send it to the Division of Immunizations Lansing Office as instructed on the Addendum. Before accessing MCIR to verify employee vaccination status, the employer must obtain written employee consent and retain it indefinitely to make available to the MDHHS upon request.

Organizations may also consider setting up a new MCIR site to effectively separate patient vaccination status checks from those for employees. To do so, they will need to complete a new MCIR Provider Agreement to establish the site and obtain a MCIR ID, and then complete the Addendum.

Additional functions for the MCIR system are being explored, and hospitals and health systems will receive additional information when they are in production. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

No Expansion of Expiration Date for Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that expiration dates of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have not been given an additional extension. Many unused doses will expire soon, and providers are urged to check their inventory to ensure no expired doses are administered. Expiration dates can be found by scanning the QR code located on the outer carton, checking the Janssen Expiration Lookup website or calling (800) 565-4008. Providers should use this vaccine only until the expiration date and then follow requirements for disposal and report wastage into MCIR.

Questions regarding vaccines may be directed to 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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Aug. 23

MHA Covid-19 update

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.

FDA Issues Full Approval of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Aug. 23 issued full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 16 and older, making it the first shot to move past the emergency use authorization phase. In doing so, the FDA reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of safety and efficacy data, reaffirming the mRNA vaccine to be highly safe and effective. The MHA issued a media statement about the approval shortly after the announcement. For children ages 12 to 15, the shot remains under emergency use authorization. Emergency authorization of this and other vaccines for anyone younger than 12 remains outstanding and could come by the end of 2021.

The required vaccine fact sheets for providers’ use have been updated and are posted to the state’s Pfizer-focused webpage.

The lack of FDA approval has been a primary talking point for individuals delaying getting their COVID-19 vaccines. The MHA is communicating with media outlets and on its social media channels about the approval and where individuals can get vaccinated, especially as children head back to school. As of Aug. 23, the rate for children ages 12 to 15 who are fully vaccinated was 30%, and the rate for children ages 16 to 19 was 39.2%.

First doses of the vaccine continue to be administered at a slow but steady pace, with Michigan having administered nearly 154,000 first doses from Aug. 1-26. Providers – especially those who see younger patients – are urged to do direct patient outreach to increase vaccination rates and ensure those who are immunocompromised get a third dose if they received an mRNA vaccine. The MHA is developing provider outreach tools for practice settings to assist with these efforts.

Members with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Bridge Magazine Hosting Youth Mental Health Conversation Aug. 31

Bridge Magazine, which the MHA supports as an underwriter of its Health Watch series, is hosting a free, online, one-hour conversation on youth mental health in Michigan from noon to 1 p.m. Aug. 31. MHA members are invited to participate in the online event by registering online.

The dialogue will include a description of the state of youth mental health services in Michigan as well as potential solutions for improving the availability of mental healthcare for youth and their families. Improved access to high-quality behavioral health services for Michiganders remains a top priority of the MHA, as evidenced by its proposal for an additional $125 million in the state budget dedicated to this issue. The MHA Board of Trustees held a robust discussion on behavioral health at its recent meeting, and more details on how the association will be dedicating resources to this issue are forthcoming.

Panelists for the event include Zakia Alavi, staff psychiatrist at LifeWays Community Mental Health in Jackson; Kevin Fischer, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Michigan Chapter</a>; and Tim Michling, research associate – Health Affairs at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The hour-long discussion will be moderated by Bridge health reporter Robin Erb.

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 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Aug. 16

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateThe delta variant of COVID-19 has created crises in many parts of the nation and caused Michigan’s case numbers to climb, with nearly 930,000 confirmed cases that have led to over 20,000 deaths as of Aug. 20. Hospitalizations due to confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state Aug. 20 totaled 912 adults and eight children. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data tracker indicated 65% of Michigan residents ages 16 and above had received at least one dose of vaccine as of Aug. 18.

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.

Federal Agencies Announce Plans for Third and Booster Shots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced it recommends a third dose of mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) for individuals with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. At this time, a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has not been recommended. The CDC advises that people talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.

In addition, the Biden administration plans to offer COVID-19 booster shots starting Sept. 20 to all Americans ages 18 and older who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. This is due to growing evidence that a third dose of the vaccine will be needed to maintain strong immunity, which experts have long expected would be necessary. The recommendation will include waiting until eight months after becoming fully vaccinated to receive a booster, meaning healthcare workers and nursing home residents would likely be first in line.

The administration shared that this booster dose policy depends on authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a review by the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee. Administration officials said they anticipate also offering booster shots to people who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine but are waiting for further data before officially making that recommendation. The recommendations are based on several studies showing effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines may decline by as much as 30% around the eight-month mark.

There is an important nuance in the language used to describe these additional doses: the “third dose” is used to describe the dose given to immunocompromised individuals, while a “booster” is used to describe the additional dose given to all other recipients.

Vaccines administered by Michigan providers have increased recently to an average of 39,000 first doses per week, rising from averages in the 20,000s in June and early July. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

MDHHS Launches Vaccination Record Website for Public

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has launched the Michigan Immunization Portal, a website that allows any individual 18 or older who has been immunized in the state of Michigan to check and obtain a copy of their vaccination record online. Once an individual provides the necessary information, their immunization record will be pulled from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry and provided to them. This function may be especially useful for providers who are contacted by individuals who have misplaced their COVID-19 vaccination cards. Members may promote this tool to their patients and the public as appropriate. Questions may be directed to Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Changes Coming to Payer Policies for COVID-19 Coverage

Health insurers in Michigan have begun announcing that, in the coming months, they will no longer cover the full cost of COVID-19 treatments. Beneficiaries of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, for example, will resume taking responsibility for their cost sharing for any necessary COVID-19 care after Sept. 30, 2021. It should be noted that COVID-19 vaccines will remain available at no cost to patients in the U.S. The MHA will continue to urge the public to take advantage of free and low-cost preventive measures like masks and vaccines to avoid the risk of hospitalization, death and preventable healthcare costs. Members with questions may 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).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Aug. 2

MHA Covid-19 update

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.

Case Numbers Increase, MHA Members Release Consensus Statement on Vaccination

In response to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 delta variant, Michigan hospitals and health systems released a consensus statement Aug. 5 that reflects the urgent need for individuals to be vaccinated. The statement notes that currently available vaccines are effective against the delta variant and could prevent the loss of thousands more loved ones, urging people to get vaccinated now. The Detroit Free Press and MiBiz both published stories that included the statement.

As in the rest of the nation, new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in Michigan. The state reported more than 3,960 new cases from Aug. 4-6, bringing the daily average cases to about 1,321 – far exceeding June and July daily averages. Hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 are also slowly increasing, with 600 hospitalizations statewide, 10 of which are pediatric.

The state has indicated that roughly 90 percent of samples recently sequenced were confirmed to be the delta variant, demonstrating its rapid spread in Michigan. Nearly half the counties in the state are now urged to have residents wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

The MHA is continuing to monitor the data and stay in close communication with state officials. Members with data questions may contact Jim Lee at the MHA.

Full FDA Approval of Pfizer Vaccine Likely to Come in Early September

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials recently told media outlets that the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus has led them to commit more resources to the approval review process for the Pfizer vaccine. This is accelerating the timeline, and the vaccine is now expected to be approved by early September.

A recent national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 30% of unvaccinated people would be more likely to get the vaccine if it were fully approved by the FDA.

Vaccination rates have increased again in recent weeks with increased spread of the virus. The country reached President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% adult vaccination Aug. 2. Although just under 64% of Michigan’s 16 and older population had received at least one dose as of Aug. 5, first doses administered in the state have increased by several thousand doses per week since July 24 compared to the several weeks prior.

The MHA does not have new information on when vaccines are expected to be authorized for children under 12 but will keep members apprised of any announcements on vaccine approval or new authorizations as they become available. Members with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

AHA Video Highlights Back-to-school Check-ups as Opportunities for COVID-19 Vaccines

The American Hospital Association (AHA) Aug. 6 launched a video encouraging families with children 12 and older to add COVID-19 vaccinations to their back-to-school preparations. This video is part of the AHA’s continuing effort to encourage vaccine confidence. Additional resources and answers to common vaccine questions are available online.

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 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Weeks of June 28 and July 5

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateAccording to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund, the country’s rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and continuing vaccination efforts have saved about 279,000 lives and avoided 1.25 million hospitalizations in the United States. Approximately 67% of Americans had received at least one dose of vaccine as of July 7.

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.

Children’s Health Leaders to Discuss Vaccines for Children in July 16 Webinar

The MHA will host a 45-minute webinar and discussion on COVID-19 vaccines for children, as well as the status of other scheduled vaccines for children, from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. July 16 featuring remarks from several leaders in children’s healthcare in Michigan. The MHA has extended an invitation to this conversation to the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and the Michigan chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics.

The agenda will include:

  • Brief overview of polling data related to individuals’ personal physicians as the trusted voice on vaccine choices.
  • COVID-19 vaccines for children, as well as comments on side effects and multi-inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
  • Status of other regularly scheduled vaccines in children, which have significantly declined during the pandemic.
  • Feedback and questions from participants.

The goal of the webinar is to increase awareness and preparedness with as many clinicians as possible before patients younger than 12 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and before school resumes and children are behind on other vaccines.

Members who have not yet registered may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA for registration instructions. Questions may be directed to Ruthanne or Laura Appel at the MHA.

Regulatory Flexibility for Sharps Containers Extended Through Oct. 31

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) recently approved an MHA request to extend regulatory flexibility for hospitals facing an ongoing sharps container shortage. State regulation currently requires hospitals to replace sharps containers every 90 days or when full, whichever is sooner. Hospitals will continue to be exempted from the 90-day rule through Oct. 31, 2021; this will allow hospitals to replace sharps containers only when they are full.

The shortage was created by a production facility fire and increased demand for the containers due to vaccinations. The regulatory relief for MHA members was set to expire July 31 but was extended by EGLE for an additional three months.

The MHA will continue to monitor the situation and work with members to determine if additional exemptions should be requested. Questions on the extended exemption can be directed to Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

State COVID-19 Data Dashboard Updates Will Occur Twice a Week

The state recently announced that its COVID-19 data dashboards will now be updated only on Tuesdays and Fridays instead of the former practice of updating them five days per week. However, providers are still required to enter their COVID-19 data into EMResource every day.

The state is reporting that, as of July 9, there are 211 confirmed adult COVID-19 hospitalizations and nine confirmed pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations. More than 62% of adults 16 and older in Michigan had received at least one dose of vaccine as of July 9.

Michigan Announces Financial, Scholarship Prizes for Vaccinated Residents

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer June 28 announced the “MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes,” which may be entered by residents who get a COVID-19 vaccine. The sweepstakes includes $5 million in cash prizes for residents 18 and older and nine $55,000 college scholarships for vaccinated residents ages 12-17.

The goal of this public private partnership — also supported by the Protect Michigan Commission, Meijer, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Association of United Ways, among others — is to help Michigan get at least 70% of residents vaccinated as soon as possible. Other states that have implemented similar prize programs have seen significant growth in vaccination rates. As the delta variant spreads in the U.S., reaching herd immunity levels is critical to preventing further outbreaks and deaths. In recent weeks, an average of 45,000 individuals in Michigan have initiated vaccination each week. As of July 7, 62 percent of state residents 16 and older have been given at least one dose.

The cash prizes for adults will be awarded via a $1 million drawing, a $2 million drawing, and 30 days of daily $50,000 drawings to anyone who has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and registers for the contest.

The MHA will keep members apprised of the success of this incentive program. Members with questions may 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 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).