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State and City Move Forward With Vaccine Programs Post-Pharmacy Partnership

The Department of Health (DOH) provided nursing homes with an overview of the enrollment process for the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Provider Program during a webinar held on Wed., Feb. 17th. Many long term care facilities (LTCFs) enrolled in this program back in the fall. While this second webinar provided many of the initial enrollment details, it included some operational details as well.

DOH staff stated that they are still working on developing next steps for nursing homes and adult care facilities (ACFs) post-federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care vaccine program. Nursing home enrollment in the State program will afford facilities options to obtain and administer the vaccine moving forward both in the short and long term. DOH is considering revising the State Vaccination Program to accommodate LTCFs' needs to vaccinate new staff and admissions. However, at this time, the program will remain in its current form, with its "use it or lose it" policy and one-week utilization requirement, to enable the State to push out as much vaccine as possible to vaccine providers and all eligible populations. DOH encourages all nursing homes to enroll in the program and to complete and sign the associated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). DOH staff are reaching out to facilities that still need to sign and submit the MOU.

While it may be difficult for facilities to utilize the minimum 100-dose order of the Moderna vaccine within one week, enrolling in the program will also allow facilities' potential partnerships with pharmacies, local health departments (LHDs), regional hubs, and other providers to receive the vaccine via redistribution. This process will allow facilities to obtain a smaller supply of doses instead of the 100-dose minimum required in a standard order.

Some operational details mentioned during the presentation:

  • New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) training on the reporting/ordering of doses will occur after enrollment. Providers should be careful when ordering – there are 10 doses to a Moderna vial and six to a Pfizer vial.
  • Freezers within a refrigerator (similar to a typical dormitory refrigerator) are not allowed for vaccine storage, as they do not provide the temperature level required. 
  • 100 minimum doses for Moderna will still be required when ordering an allocation of supply.
  • Nursing homes enrolled as providers may vaccinate their independent living facilities. The nursing home must be enrolled, administer, and report all vaccinations. 
  • Splitting up an order between sister facilities requires both facilities to be enrolled. 
  • Enrolled provider facilities may "transfer" vaccine supply to another facility and deliver a one-day clinic, returning supply at the end of the day. The site receiving the one-day clinic would not need to be enrolled as a provider. The facility "owning" the vaccine is required to report the administered doses in NYSIIS.
  • Members can opt out of the vaccine provider program. However, facilities are encouraged to enroll to preserve their options moving forward. If a facility wants to obtain vaccine from another source, it must still be an enrolled provider to administer the vaccine. 
  • Enrolled LTCFs may vaccinate their own staff and residents. The State has no plans to have nursing homes vaccinate the general public.
  • If a provider is enrolled in the program, it does not have to order vaccine unless and until it is ready to do so.
  • If an LTCF is on a hospital's enrollment application as a part B entity, it is already enrolled as a provider. But if the hospital intended to vaccinate the LTCF and the LTCF is not listed as a provider in the program, that LTCF is not allowed to administer to its own staff/residents.
  • Can facilities use contract staff for vaccination? DOH is taking this question back to staff/counsel for an answer.
  • Once a facility is enrolled in the program, information will be disseminated regarding the ordering process. Supply is now limited. Submitting a planning request (prebooking and ordering) in NYSIIS entails requesting an amount. At this time, actual allocations shipped to providers are limited. Supply is limited to a one-week allocation. There is more to come from DOH on the standard ordering and redistribution processes.
  • DOH has a sample consent form for LTCFs to use, or a facility can use its own. No specific form is required.
  • Which entity should enroll, an LTCF or its LTCF pharmacy? DOH will circle back on this.
  • The NYSIIS Prebooking System does not allow providers to input a "0" if they are not ordering vaccine supply. If a provider does not need to order doses, it should not submit a request for the week.
  • The shelf life of the vaccine is limited. Once punctured, the vaccine must be used within a few hours.
  • The provider that owns the doses, either by directly receiving through a NYSIIS request or through redistribution, must complete NYSIIS reporting. 
  • No partial doses are allowed to be redistributed.
  • Second doses of vaccine are not to be ordered by providers. They are ordered for providers by the State. Second doses will automatically get shipped to providers. 

Members can find the recording of the webinar here and all prioritization and operational guidance for the State COVID-19 Vaccination Provider Program here. LeadingAge NY will keep members apprised of further guidance, training, and potential activation of this program.

Potential Vaccine Partnerships – LHDs and Nursing Homes

In press events last week, the Governor announced that vaccine partnerships between LHDs and LTCFs are under development. Some members have been contacted by their LHD to discuss potential redistribution arrangements so that facilities can access a limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine. To participate in such an arrangement, providers must be enrolled in the State Vaccination Provider Program. LeadingAge NY will provide more details on this development as information becomes available.

NYC Vaccine Program Webinar Scheduled for Nursing Homes

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) will be holding an informational webinar entitled COVID-19 Vaccines for NYC Nursing Homes after the CDC Program on Tues., Feb. 23rd from 3 to 4 p.m. Members are encouraged to attend this session. To register, click here. LeadingAge NY will post the recording of the webinar when it becomes available.

Contact: Meg Everett, meverett@leadingageny.org, 518-929-9342 or Diane Darbyshire, ddarbyshire@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8828