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New Vaccine Prioritization Guidance and Details on the State Vaccination Provider Program

Last week, the Department of Health (DOH) issued new COVID-19 vaccine guidance following the addition of the 1B population and individuals over age 65 to the State's prioritization list. With that, technical glitches in scheduling have occurred, and vaccination scheduling resources show that the system is booked until April, causing concern for health care providers and all those interested in getting vaccinated.

The Jan. 15th guidance clarifies that health care providers are now to be served by hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), urgent care centers, and ambulatory care centers. Members should be mindful that prioritization and delivery of the vaccine changes on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Changes are often made due to vaccine allocations, new populations, and other issues and hiccups that arise regarding delivery, scheduling, and administration of the vaccine. Please be patient.

The guidance reconfigures vaccination responsibility to priority populations as follows:

  • For pharmacies, physician networks, and practice groups only, individuals eligible to be vaccinated in such facilities are those 65 years of age and older. All other eligible individuals should contact other enrolled providers to schedule vaccination.
  • Local health departments must prioritize essential workers (police, fire, teachers, public transit, etc. See Appendix A.)
  • Hospitals, FQHCs, and urgent care or ambulatory care providers should continue to prioritize the 1A population but may vaccinate any eligible recipient.

The guidance also adds to and reiterates some of the provisions, conditions, and restrictions that apply to State Vaccination Program-enrolled providers. While some LeadingAge NY members are enrolled in this program, they are not currently activated as vaccine providers, as DOH would like to wrap up the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care program first.

Members should review the requirements for the program in the Jan. 15th guidance and associated guidance documents to familiarize themselves with the State program. Enrolled providers are not automatically provided with the vaccine, as it must be ordered first. An enrolled provider can delay their participation in the program by not ordering the vaccine until they are ready.

Some details regarding the State Vaccination Program per the Jan. 15th guidance:

  • Vaccinators must adhere to prioritization guidance and provide vaccine to those eligible;
  • All providers must comply with the "use it or lose it" policy. If a vaccine is not administered within seven days of receipt, remaining doses may be removed or not allocated in the future;
  • Vaccinators must notify the State by day five of the week if they are not on track to utilize all vaccine doses by the end of the week;
  • Redistribution approval is required; see Guidance on Redistribution of COVID-19 Vaccine
  • Transport to another site for one-day clinic is allowed without approval;
  • Vaccinators must keep a daily "stand-by" list of eligible individuals to be notified of open appointments on short notice to ensure uptake during the vaccine's acceptable use period; see End-of-Day Guidance – COVID-19 Vaccine;
  • Guidance has been issued regarding prefilling syringes to ensure that no doses are wasted;
  • Guidance on second doses has also been issued; see Guidance on Second Dose of Vaccine.

Keep in mind that new guidance on the program is regularly issued, so please access the State Vaccination Provider Program website located here. It provides enrollment information, operational guidance, prioritization guidance, and resources and webinars on the State Vaccination Program.

Members should be aware that LeadingAge NY continues to advocate for long-term options, post-Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care, for nursing homes and adult care facilities (ACFs) to vaccinate their new admissions and new staff. We will keep members apprised of any new developments that occur. In the meantime, residents and staff may be vaccinated in the community: residents via pharmacy providers and doctors' offices and staff via the various provider sites listed above. To learn more about other issues relating to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

LeadingAge NY continues to reach out to the 10 Regional Vaccination Networks to advocate for on-site vaccination clinics at senior housing and independent living sites. We know that each hub has been inundated with arranging for administration of the vaccine to the populations recently added to the priority list. We will continue to have one-on-one conversations and participate in regional hub conference calls and small group meetings to discuss and advocate for these options.

Contact: Meg Everett, meverett@leadingageny.org, 518-929-9342