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OPA COVID-19 Vaccines: November 29, 2021 Update

COVID-19 Variant Identified
Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) identified a variant of the COVID-19 virus B.1.1.529. This variant named Omicron has been declared as a variant of concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring the variant's path and reviewing information shared by scientists in countries where this variant has been identified. The CDC urges healthcare providers to recommend patients follow prevention strategies such as wearing a mask in closed and congregate settings, frequent hand washing, and physical distancing. More importantly, patients should be urged to get fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine, including those eligible for booster doses.  

NewCDC Health Advisory -- Increasing Seasonal Influenza A (H3N2) Activity
The CDC issued a health advisory stating that there has been a recent increase of Influenza A(H3N2) viruses occurring in young adults. Recent outbreaks have concentrated in colleges and universities in several states. Available seasonal influenza vaccines in the United States provide protection against four different influenza viruses: A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2), B/Victoria lineage, and B/Yamagata lineage viruses.

The CDC recommends that vaccinators continue to recommend and offer influenza vaccines to persons ages six months and older. Patients with suspected or confirmed influenza who meet clinical criteria should seek treatment  from their primary care provider with influenza antivirals. As a reminder the CDC recommends offering the current seasonal influenza vaccine alongside the COVID-19 vaccine. Lastly patients should be encouraged to consider mitigation measures including staying at home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and frequent hand washing.

Reminder: Ohio Vax-2-School Program Deadline - December 1 
Ohio Vax-2-School is a public outreach campaign to increase awareness of the availability and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. It also provides incentives to younger Ohioans to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Ohioans ages 5-25 who receive at least the first dose of any COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Vax-2-School program. Eligible individuals, or their parents or guardians, can register at once they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19.  The deadline to register for the grand prize drawing is Wednesday, December 1, at 11:59 pm. Vaccinators can download the Ohio Vax-2-School communications toolkit with social media posts, graphics, newsletter language, and more.

Reminder: Influenza Vaccine Administration and Resources 
Vaccinators are encouraged to discuss flu vaccine administration as they interact with patients regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Influenza typically spreads in the fall and winter, with activity peaking between December and February. Therefore, getting vaccinated to prevent the flu at this time can preserve health care resources for patients with other diseases and medical conditions, including COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given. 

Reminder: Administration Fees for COVID-19 Vaccines Increased to $100 Per Shot for Medicaid Patients 
The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) and Ohio’s Medicaid Managed Care Plan (MCP) leaders announced that the administration fee for COVID-19 vaccines is $100 for all COVID-19 shots, including first, second, and booster doses for Medicaid members. See the MCP notification here. The MCP leadership encourages pharmacies to assist Medicaid patients with accessing first, second, and booster shots through phone call outreach, walk-in appointments, and other personalized outreach. OPA commends ODM and the MCPs for continuing to boost pharmacist-driven vaccine administration efforts across the state.

Ohio’s Medicaid Managed Care Group has announced a new Rx Bonus Program that could earn your pharmacy up to $10,000 by the end of the year.

Rules of participation in the Rx Bonus Program:

  • Pharmacy must have provided at least fifty (50) vaccinations for COVID-19 to Medicaid MCO enrollees between June 15, 2021, and September 15, 2021, as determined by claims data
  • Pharmacy must have the capability to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to Medicaid MCO enrollees between October 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021

How the Rx Bonus Program works:
Each pharmacy will have a baseline vaccination goal.

  • Based on claims data, the baseline will be set based on each Pharmacy location’s delivery of vaccines to Medicaid MCO members 12+ between June 15 and September 15.
    • Bonus payment will be based on vaccination doses delivered to Medicaid MCO members 12+ between October 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021. (Claims must be received no later than January 31, 2022)
  • Each Pharmacy location will be eligible to receive a vaccine incentive bonus based on their percentage improvement against the Baseline Target as follows:
    • Improvement > 50% but < 75%over the baseline = $5,000.00
    • Improvement > 75% but < 100%over the baseline = $7,500.00
    • Improvement > 100% baseline = $10,000.00 
  • Vaccination Incentive bonus will be paid out no later than March 31, 2022.
  • Indicate your interest in the program by answering this survey: Rx Vaccine Bonus Program Interest Survey

Who benefits from the Rx Bonus Program:
Rx Bonus Payments must be distributed to the specific Pharmacy location’s staff (pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy interns, and any other staff directly supporting the pharmacy team). Each pharmacy has the discretion to determine the distribution amounts to staff.

Rx Bonus Program toolkit to help reach patients:
The MCOs will share a toolkit to assist pharmacies in reaching out to patients for a final 2021 appeal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. These resources will help pharmacies inform patients of the $100 gift card incentive for all Medicaid members over 12 years. It will also remind them that they only have until the end of the year to receive their gift card when they are vaccinated at a local pharmacy.

Tools include:

  • Social Media posts
  • Text messages
  • Outbound call scripts
  • If you have any questions about this program, please contact Meera Patel-Zook at [email protected] and Nick Trego at [email protected]. Please respond to this survey as soon as possible with your interest: Rx Vaccine Bonus Program Interest Survey.
  • Note: Pharmacies who respond will be evaluated for their eligibility for the program by the MCP leadership. Those who fit the criteria will be contacted with further information.

Reminder: Medicaid Vaccine Incentives Deadline Extended
Ohio’s managed care plans announced that the incentives for administering the COVID-19 vaccine have been extended to December 31, 2021. The incentives include gift cards for patients ages 12 and above on Medicaid who received their first dose. 

  1. Pharmacies can receive Visa gift cards directly to give to patients. If you are an independent pharmacy vaccinator, please email [email protected] for your gift card needs. Thank you to those who have already responded with the projected numbers of gift cards needed.
    1. Once you get to 75% of your gift card allocation, please reach out to Attn: Meera Patel-Zook – Gift Card Request at [email protected]  so that they can ship out an additional allotment to your store.

If you have received gift cards, please track them using COVID-19 Vaccine Gift Card Tracker Example. Vaccinators can now add all the information for all MCOs in ONE tracker and send that tracker to [email protected]

Helpful State Vaccine Resources and Information
The following resources are helpful for vaccinators to contact ODH regarding vaccine shipments:

  • COVID Vaccine Provider Call Center: 1-844-963-4829 (The ODH Provider Call Center is open daily from 8:00 am – 7:00 pm Monday through Friday and is no longer open on weekends)
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Resources website

    OPA is working diligently to facilitate communication between state decision-makers and member pharmacists. OPA has created multiple COVID-19 resources, including a COVID-19 Vaccine Information Webpage, COVID-19 Testing Hub, and COVID-19 Resources Webpage, on the OPA website under the Resources drop-down box. Please contact Myriam Shaw Ojeda, Director of Pharmacy Extension and Public Health Initiatives, for further questions at [email protected].

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