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New HCP Populations Added to State's COVID-19 Vaccine Priority List

The Department of Health (DOH) recently issued more weekly vaccine guidance prioritizing new populations for COVID-19 vaccination. Initially, the Department was going to initiate vaccination of these populations on Jan. 11th, but that date has now been moved up to Jan. 4th.

According to the new guidance, issued on Jan. 5th, the State will start vaccinating the following populations:

  • Home care 
  • Hospice 
  • Personal assistants under the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP)
  • Nursing home staff not yet vaccinated through the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care (Partnership)
  • Adult care facility (ACF) staff not yet vaccinated through the federal Partnership

The guidance indicates that these populations will receive vaccines through the State vaccination program at hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Urgent Care Centers, or enrolled vaccination providers, including local health departments. New York City (NYC) will administer the vaccines via enrolled vaccine providers, including local points of dispensing (PODs). DOH indicated that providers will receive instructions from the Department on how to schedule workers for vaccination, likely through the Clinical Data Management System (CDMS). LeadingAge NY is learning more from the Regional Vaccination Networks as they work through establishing these processes. NYC already has some scheduling systems in place. However, limited vaccine availability is preventing scheduling and uptake.

Prior guidance for groups authorized for vaccination has required providers to identify and rank workers to be prioritized. Initial prioritization has been given to those working in settings where:

  • Patients or residents/service recipients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are provided with direct care;
  • Aerosolizing procedures are performed;
  • Exposure to the public cannot be controlled (reception areas, cafeterias, etc.);
  • There are patients or residents/service recipients with a greater risk of morbidity and mortality if exposed; or 
  • There are employed staff, voluntary staff, contractors, and volunteers who meet the criteria. 

It is unclear whether the new populations starting this week will be required to prioritize their staff. We will keep members informed if DOH issues any guidance to this effect.

Some important considerations mentioned in the guidance:

  • All doses received by vaccinators must be used within the week;
  • Vaccinators may set up one-day, off-site clinics at different locations; 
  • Staff should obtain their second dose date at their first dose and return to the same location for the second dose;
  • Staff should provide proof of occupation (employee ID, letter from employer, or pay stub); alternatively, employers can provide the vaccinator with a staff list;
  • Staff must complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form prior to vaccination; and
  • Staff are encouraged to utilize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker app, which tracks symptoms/side effects of the vaccine and provides second dose reminders.

Providers are encouraged to communicate vaccine opportunities to staff and consider implementing appointment schedules and staff prioritization. The various guidance documents provide a chart of eligible populations for vaccination as well as the vaccinator options under the State and NYC programs.

Additional documents potentially required for vaccination include:

Every week, guidance is issued adding new populations and vaccinator options to the State program. We will let members know when new resident/patient populations are added to the list. Regional Vaccination Networks are still in the initial phases of developing their systems and options to effectively and efficiently schedule and administer doses.

Regional Vaccination Network Advocacy

LeadingAge NY is reaching out to every Regional Vaccination Network and its operational staff to advocate for vaccine prioritization of member, staff, and resident populations as well as convey our willingness to help support vaccination options, including push pods and other on-site vaccination options, for our housing and independent living members. LeadingAge NY recently issued a letter advocating these points to DOH and the Regional Vaccination Networks, which can be accessed here. The contact list for the Regional Vaccination Networks is here. We encourage members to reach out to these contacts to participate, educate, and advocate for your staff, members, and residents in regional vaccine implementation efforts.

NYC Vaccination Scheduling Tool and POD Listing

NYC's COVID-19 vaccination website provides a scheduling tool for those eligible for the vaccine and shows several vaccination hub sites. NYC hub staff indicate that many additional hub sites will be added soon. The site also includes a resource that provides notifications when appointments become available. Note that the NYC site references the old DOH guidance providing the Jan. 11th start date and not the most updated guidance providing the Jan. 4th start date for home care, hospice, nursing home, and ACF staff vaccine prioritization. We assume they will update this soon.

Am I Eligible?  Vaccine Tool for the Public

DOH recently released an Am I Eligible? webpage for the public to determine if they are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a good referral resource if members are receiving inquiries from the public. The form has a drop-down menu for health care provider staff and indicates that, if eligible, it will provide local options for vaccination and, potentially, the ability to schedule.

Vaccine Education Materials Available

The State recently issued some helpful vaccine education tools to educate staff and create awareness and support for vaccination of health care staff and the general public. The Governor's site includes stickers, posters, and links to resources for those who seek information. The posters include a bar code for individuals to scan and obtain links to important vaccine information and the vaccination process. 

Links include the following: