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OPA COVID-19 Vaccines: December 21, 2021 Update

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Formulation Change
Starting from Thursday, December 23, 2021, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals ages 12 and above will be available in smaller quantities that can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures for a longer time without the requirement for dilution. Here is additional information about the new formulation:

Storage and Handling

  • The new formulation will be called the Pfizer Tris Sucrose (gray cap)
  • The formulation will not require a diluent
  • A new update to storing guidelines is that the vials can be stored for up to 10 weeks at standard refrigerator temperature (35°F to 46°F).
  • Vials can ONLY be stored in an ultracold freezer (-130°F to -76°F) or a standard refrigerator (35°F to 46°F), NOT a standard freezer (-13°F to 5°F) attached to a standard refrigerator.
  • The vials cannot be stored in their original thermal shipping container long-term. Upon delivery, the vials must be moved either to an ultracold freezer or standard refrigerator
  • Vials stored in standard refrigerators must be stored towards the bottom of the refrigeration unit. Additionally, the vials should not be placed next to the temperature monitoring device or next to other refrigerated vaccines.
  • The new thermal shippers are disposable but come with temperature data loggers that must be returned. Instructions to return the loggers will be provided in the shipper.
  • See more details about storage and handling here: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Ages 12 and Older (Gray Cap) - Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers
  • ODH urges vaccinators to use existing supplies of the original purple capped formulation before ordering the newer formulation.


ODH will be conducting training sessions on ordering, storing, and handling this new formulation. Please save the following dates. Additional links to the online webinar and recordings of the sessions will be provided soon.

  • Tuesday, December 21, 1-2 pm
  • Wednesday, December 22, 9-10 am
  • Tuesday, December 28, 2-3 pm

Pfizer will also be conducting future training sessions. Please visit for updated training sessions.


Providers can request the new gray cap through VOMS starting December 23. Orders will be reviewed by ODH and be approved based on existing inventory. Delivery of the new product will begin January 4. Further details are as follows:

  • The minimum ordering quantity is 300 doses
  • Ordering is available through the “COVID-19 – Pfizer” order set in VOMS
  • Vaccinators requiring smaller quantities can order from the ODH Receipt, Stage and Store (RSS) Warehouse through VOMS
    • The minimum order is 60 doses (with 60 dose increments)
    • Ordering is available through the “COVID-19 – Pfizer RSS” order set in VOMS
    • Ordering will follow the standard Tuesday/Thursday/Friday delivery cadence

Note: The Pfizer pediatric formulation will only be available for direct shipment in 100 dose increments through the “COVID-19-Pfizer” order set. The RSS warehouse will focus on repackaging and distributing the new Pfizer Adult/Adolescent formulation into smaller quantities.

NewCDC Resource for Information on the COVID-19 Omicron Variant
The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 variant continues to spread across the United States and beyond. The CDC recognizes that healthcare providers are being asked about the variant, and therefore they have created a resource titled Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know. This resource contains information on the spread of the variant, transmissibility information, and tools to combat this variant, among other resources.

Reminder: CDC 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: 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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