COVID-19 Vaccine Priority Level For Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities Who Live In Group Homes Is Different Between States.
USA Today (1/11, Weintraub) reports that in the US, the COVID-19 vaccine “priority level for people who live in group homes varies by state – even though the outbreak this spring showed that they are two-to-three times more likely to be exposed to and die from COVID-19 than the general population.” Some individuals “with intellectual and developmental disabilities need help eating and bathing, so they can’t keep physically distant,” and “many are unable to tolerate masks.” The CDC “committee that sets vaccination priorities had recommended people in ‘long-term care facilities’ be among the first group to receive shots,” however, “it doesn’t precisely define those facilities or specify group homes, like those for intellectual and developmental disabilities, [Sam Crane, legal director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network,] said.”
Texas Health Providers Receiving Vaccine Doses To Focus On Large Community Vaccination Efforts.
The AP (1/10) reports, “Texas health providers getting doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week will include 28 providers that will focus on large community vaccination efforts, state health officials said Sunday.” The state “is currently vaccinating health care workers, people 65 and older and those with medical conditions that put them at greater risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.” On Sunday, the Texas Department of State Health Services “said...that the hub providers will get more than 158,000 doses of the vaccine this week.”
Wisconsin Committee Says State May Open COVID-19 Vaccinations To Residents 70 And Older, Some Essential Workers Next.
The AP (1/10) reports a Wisconsin “committee looking into COVID-19 shots says it might open [COVID-19] vaccinations to people 70 and older and limited groups of essential workers once most health care workers and nursing home residents are immunized.” Members of the “state vaccine committee agreed on slight departures from federal guidelines, which call for moving next to ages 75 and older and more types of essential workers.” But, some members “disagreed on whether to add group home residents and prison and jail inmates, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.”
Florida Vaccine Efforts Lead To Long Waits, Confusion Amid COVID-19 Surge.
The New York Times (1/10, A1, Mazzei, Adelson, Kelly) reports “Florida is in an alarming new upward spiral” amid its COVID-19 outbreak, “with nearly 20,000 cases of the virus reported on Friday and more than 15,000 on Saturday.” However, its “well-intended effort to throw open the doors of the vaccine program to everyone 65 and older has led to long lines, confusion and disappointment.” The Times adds the state, “which has already prioritized a large swath of its population to receive the vaccine, illustrates the challenges of expanding a vaccination program being developed at record speed and with limited federal assistance.”
Florida’s Vaccine Rollout Sparks Frustration Over Inconsistent Messaging, Poor Planning.
The Tampa Bay (FL) Times (1/9, Reeves) reported poor planning and inconsistent messaging from Florida health officials heading the state’s vaccine rollout have left many people and organizations frustrated. For example, “on Wednesday, AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson released a statement calling on the state to be transparent about its distribution plans.” Johnson said, “Too many older people are frustrated by their inability to understand when and where they can get vaccinated. And in some communities, a long history of systemic discrimination has left trust in tatters. This is jeopardizing the effectiveness of a brilliant scientific success in developing the vaccines.”
Montana Revises Vaccination Plan To Prioritize Those 70 And Over, People With Underlying Conditions.
The AP (1/9, Hanson) reported, “Montana’s new plan for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine now prioritizes people age 70 and older and those with specific underlying health conditions to receive the second round of vaccines, drawing criticism from advocates for groups including teachers and those living in congregate care settings who have been shuffled to the third phase.” On Tuesday, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) “said he instructed the state health department and his COVID-19 task force to revise the vaccine distribution plan to protect the most vulnerable.”
Some States Open Up Vaccination Eligibility Following Criticism Of Slow Rollout.
The New York Times (1/9, A1, Goodnough) reported on its front page, “Just weeks into the country’s coronavirus vaccination effort, states have begun broadening access to the shots faster than planned, amid tremendous public demand and intense criticism about the pace of the rollout.” While “some public health officials worry that doing so could bring even more chaos to the complex operation and increase the likelihood that some of the highest-risk Americans will be skipped over,” there is also a push “to expand eligibility...as deaths from the virus continue to surge, hospitals are overwhelmed with critically ill patients and millions of vaccine doses delivered last month remain in freezers.” The Times added HHS Secretary Alex Azar said, “It would be much better to move quickly and end up vaccinating some lower-priority people than to let vaccines sit around while states try to micromanage this process.”
States’ Online COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Sites Met With High Demand.
The New York Times (1/9, Goodnough) reported, “As states try to scale up [COVID-19] vaccine rollouts that have been marred with confusion and errors, the online registration sites – operated by a welter of agencies and using a range of technologies – are crucial.” However, “the problems they are experiencing reveal yet another challenge to getting Americans inoculated: There are many, many more people who want to be vaccinated than there are opportunities to get the shot.”
New Mexico Expands Vaccine Eligibility To Older Residents, People With Underlying Medical Conditions.
The AP (1/8, Bryan) reported, “New Mexico is moving ahead with COVID-19 vaccine distribution, expanding eligibility on Friday to people 75 and older as well as residents with underlying medical conditions that place them at greater risk.” The expansion “under what is known as Phase 1B of the distribution plan also includes front-line essential workers who can’t work remotely and other vulnerable populations such as the homeless and those in correctional facilities or residential treatment centers.” The most recent “data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 133,000 doses have been delivered to the state.”
Alabama To Expand Vaccine Eligibility To Residents 75 And Older, First Responders.
The AP (1/8, Chandler) reported that on Friday, Alabama “announced...that the state will begin giving COVID-19 vaccinations to people 75 years old or older as well as first responders later this month, opening up eligibility for the coveted shots after a slow initial rollout.” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) “urged people to remain patient because initial vaccine supplies remain limited.” The state, “along with Mississippi, Georgia, Michigan, Kansas and Arizona, ranks at the bottom for the rate of vaccinations so far, according to numbers compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Pennsylvania Updates Coronavirus Vaccine Plan To Include Older Residents, Essential Workers.
The AP (1/8, Rubinkam) reported that on Friday, Pennsylvania “released an updated coronavirus vaccine plan that makes more people eligible for shots in the initial phases of the rollout.” Healthcare workers “and nursing home residents remain at the front of the line, followed by people 75 years and older and ‘essential workers’ like police officers, grocery store clerks and teachers.” Pennsylvania health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine “said the state’s vaccine plan tracks with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Colorado Governor Extends Mask Mandate; State Hopes To Vaccinate 70% Of Older Residents By End Of February.
The Denver Post (1/8) reported that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) “extended the statewide mask mandate for 30 more days on Wednesday to help slow the spread of COVID-19.” The executive order “calls for masks to be covering faces when people are in public indoor locations.” A mask-wearing order “first went into effect for Colorado in July and has continued to be extended since.”
The AP (1/8, Klamann) reported Colorado “is hoping to vaccinate 70% of residents over 69 years old by the end of February,” Polis “said Friday at a news conference in which officials warned of an uptick in cases.” The 70-and-older population “is the focus of the state’s current vaccine priority, now that many health care workers have been inoculated and pharmacies are moving forward with efforts in long-term care facilities.”
Chicago Residents 65 And Older Will Be Able To Get COVID-19 Vaccine In Next Phase.
The Chicago Tribune (1/8, Yin, Petrella) reported that Chicago residents 65 and older “will be eligible for the [COVID-19] vaccine in the next phase, but vaccination sites will prioritize the seniors by age and risk factors, Chicago officials said Friday.” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady “said in a news conference that the city is ‘absolutely on the same page’ with the state, whose Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that people 65 or older will be part of phase 1b, which includes the elderly and front-line essential workers, effectively lowering federal guidelines for the first group by 10 years.” The city “is currently in phase 1a, which includes health care workers and long-term care facility staff and residents, and the next stage may not start until February.”
Health Officials Turn To Ticketing Site Eventbrite To Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines.
The New York Times (1/8, Fortin) reported that with the coronavirus vaccine rollout “both hectic and slow,” health officials “have turned to an unexpected tool: the ticketing website Eventbrite,” to “schedule vaccination appointments.” The article added that the use of the platform “has raised concerns about accessibility: Not everyone has internet access or knows how to use Eventbrite,” and “some reports have raised alarms about possible scams.” Furthermore, “using Eventbrite to process protected medical information could violate privacy regulations under America’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, said Kayte Spector-Bagdady, an associate director at the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan.” However, HHS Office for Civil Rights Director Roger Severino said his agency is “not interested in imposing HIPAA penalties on providers that are doing the best they can to quickly vaccinate people.”
Reuters (January 8)
More than a dozen states looking to deploy unused coronavirus vaccines are starting to give shots to older members of the general population while others have not, meaning protection for more than 20 million Americans aching to hug their grandchildren may depend on where they live.
Alaska Public Media (January 7)
An ‘imperfect system’: Getting Alaska’s seniors signed up for the COVID-19 vaccine is not going smoothly
Juneau resident John Palmes, 74 got up early on Wednesday to try to beat the rush to get a vaccination appointment. He went to the website that public health officials have been steering eligible people like him to. He clicked a link to schedule an appointment. “First, I found a bewildering map,” he said. And he had no idea what do when he got there. It’s a map of the state with pins for individual pharmacies and health care providers that intend to administer the vaccine. Each pin has contact info for the provider and a link to their website. So, it’s basically a directory, not a centralized booking site like Palmes and others were expecting.