States Find Healthcare Providers Have Been Holding Back Some COVID-19 Vaccine Doses.
The New York Times (2/19, A1, LaFraniere, Stolberg, Goodnough) reports on its front page that when coronavirus vaccine vials “began rolling off production lines late last year, federal health officials set aside a big stash for nursing homes being ravaged by the virus.” Health providers across the country also “figured as well that it was prudent to squirrel away vials to ensure that everyone who got a first dose of vaccine got a second one. Two months later, it is clear both strategies went overboard.” Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses “wound up trapped in logistical limbo, either set aside for nursing homes that did not need them or stockpiled while Americans clamored in vain for their first doses. Now a national effort is underway to pry those doses loose – and, with luck, give a significant boost to the national vaccination ramp-up.” White House adviser Andy Slavitt said early in February that healthcare providers should not hold “back doses that are intended as first doses.”
Physicians, Nurses Pushing To Bring COVID-19 Vaccines To Vulnerable Homebound Americans.
The AP (2/19) reports physicians “and nurses who specialize in home care are leading” the push to bring COVID-19 vaccines to millions of homebound US residents “and starting to get help from state and local governments around the country.” However, “researchers say many homebound people don’t receive regular medical care, which makes it hard to identify everyone who needs a vaccine.” Furthermore, supplies “are limited, and both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines expire a few hours after syringes pull the vaccine from vials.”
Kaiser Health News (February 19)
For a decade, Jennifer Crow has taken care of her elderly parents, who have multiple sclerosis. After her father had a stroke in December, the family got serious in its conversations with a retirement community — and learned that one service it offered was covid-19 vaccination. “They mentioned it like it was an amenity, like ‘We have a swimming pool and a vaccination program,’” said Crow, a librarian in southern Maryland. “It was definitely appealing to me.” Vaccines, she felt, would help ease her concerns about whether a congregate living situation would be safe for her parents, and for her to visit them; she has lupus, an autoimmune condition.
Access To COVID-19 Vaccines For People With Developmental Disabilities Varies By State, County.
Disability Scoop (2/18, Diament) reports “people with developmental disabilities are at significantly greater risk of dying from COVID-19, but whether or not individuals have access to vaccines is coming down to which state – or even which county – they live in.” When the CDC “failed to specify those with developmental disabilities in its recommendations for priority groups, advocates were left to plead their case with individual states.” Therefore, “in some places like Tennessee, vaccines were made available in the highest priority group to all adults with developmental disabilities who are unable to live independently.” But, “states like California and North Carolina moved people with disabilities down on their priority lists in favor of other groups, leaving advocates to fight to regain quicker access.”
Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Website Crashed On Thursday.
The AP (2/18) reports, “Massachusetts’ COVID-19 vaccine appointment portal temporarily crashed Thursday morning as more than 1 million additional state residents became eligible to schedule a shot.” According to Gov. Charlie Baker (R), “Of 70,000 available appointments about 20,000 were able to be filled in the morning.” The article says Massachusetts “began allowing those age 65 and older, people with two or more certain medical conditions, and residents and staff of low income and affordable senior housing so sign up for a vaccine shot.”
Louisiana Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility To Teachers, Child Care Workers, Others.
The AP (2/18, Deslatte) reports, “Louisiana will expand coronavirus vaccine access next week to another half-million people, allowing teachers, child care workers and older people with certain medical conditions to get the shots, Gov. John Bel Edwards [D] announced Thursday.”
DC To Offer COVID-19 Vaccine To People Aged 16 And Older With Serious Health Problems.
The Washington Post (2/18, Zauzmer) reports Washington DC “announced Thursday that it will offer coronavirus vaccines to people 16 or older with serious health problems, beginning March 1.” These article adds, “Residents who have conditions such as cancer, diabetes or kidney or liver disease can seek a vaccine through their doctor or through the city’s public registration system.”
Massachusetts Residents Aged 65-74, Those With Underlying Health Conditions Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine.
The AP (2/17) reports that on Wednesday, Massachusetts health officials said people aged 65 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Residents with more than one underlying medical condition can also register for inoculation.
According to the Boston Globe (2/17, Weisman, Pan, Andersen, Lazar), underlying conditions include asthma, “cancer; chronic kidney disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Down syndrome; heart conditions, such as heart failure and coronary artery disease; being immunocompromised; pregnancy; sickle cell disease; obesity; smoking; and type 2 diabetes.”
More Than 695K Minnesotans Have Received The COVID-19 Vaccine.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (2/17, Olson) reports, “More than 695,000 people in Minnesota have received COVID-19 vaccine, according to the latest state figures on Wednesday, including nearly 25% of teachers and 40% of senior citizens.”
Detroiters Aged 60-64 With Chronic Medical Conditions Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine.
The Detroit Free Press (2/17, Hall) reports that on Wednesday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D) announced “Detroiters age[d] 60 and older with chronic medical conditions...are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The Detroit News (2/17, Rahal) says, “Residents who qualify include those with cancer, asthma, heart conditions, hypertension, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, pulmonary fibrosis, cardiomyopathy, HIV, liver disease, coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, dementia, sickle cell disease and Alzheimer’s disease.”
Crain’s Detroit Business (2/17, Frank) also reports.
Nevadans Aged 65-69 Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine Next Week.
The AP (2/17, Metz) reports that beginning next week, Nevadans aged 65-69 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Washington Post (February 17)
Fran Goldman had spent weeks glued to her tablet and on the phone with her local health department before she was finally able to schedule a coronavirus vaccine appointment last weekend. So when the 90-year-old woke up on Sunday to find 10 inches of snow covering the unplowed Seattle roads, she realized she only had two options: Rescheduling her shot or trekking by foot for three miles. She chose the latter.
Kaiser Family Foundation (February 16)
Individuals with certain medical conditions are at increased risk of severe illness1 if they become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and as such are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for vaccination in the first phases of vaccine roll-out. The CDC estimates that this group represents 81 million people, or 40% of those recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in these initial phases. This is a substantial portion of the nation’s population and, with vaccine supply still limited, not all eligible people will be able to get vaccinated immediately. Indeed, most states have not yet opened up vaccine eligibility to those with high-risk medical conditions, although they represent some of the next in line. Yet, much like states have discretion in deciding when to prioritize groups for vaccination, they also can decide how to define them, including the list of medical conditions that will be considered. Further, states, and counties or cities within states, may differ in their implementation for this population.
We assessed how states are defining “high-risk medical conditions,” including whether they follow CDC’s recommendations or deviate in some way. Overall, we found that there is wide variation across the country, including in the conditions listed by states, whether these are limited or allow for additional conditions to be considered, and how clearly the information is presented. Some states stick to the CDC’s list exactly, but most do not. It is also quite difficult to locate information. Given the challenges and confusion with vaccine roll-out thus far, this variation and lack of clarity could have significant bearing on the ability of those with high-risk medical conditions, some of whom may be among the most vulnerable, to access the vaccine in early phases.