OPA COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics: March 7, 2022 Update
NewODH Stresses COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Efforts
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) encourages vaccine providers to recommend booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The slow uptake of the booster dose can be attributed to the public’s perception of the waning spread of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Here are some suggestions to boost vaccine administration rates:
- Increased signage around the pharmacy about COVID-19 vaccine booster information
- Remind patients about their eligibility for the COVID-19 booster vaccine based on your pharmacy electronic health records
- Reach out to older age groups who continue to be most vulnerable to the virus to keep updated on COVID-19 vaccine information
- Consider walk-in options for patients who have transportation and variable life situations that make it difficult for them to access the vaccine
ODH will soon provide further information to aid in vaccine booster efforts in Ohio. These resources will be shared will all vaccinators once finalized.
NewODH Creates Health Improvement Resource
ODH has released a resource that identifies Ohio’s Health Improvement Zones. By understanding where these populations are located and what factors contribute to their levels of risk, Ohio Health Improvement Zones can aid in all phases of improving health in communities. This tool contains county-level and U.S. Census Tract-level data on Health Improvement Zones.
The tool contains maps and a dashboard view of data with indicators for healthcare improvement at a county level. A training video to navigate this tool can be found here. Pharmacists can use this tool to explore reimbursable healthcare efforts to improve their community’s overall health.
NewFederal Test to Treat Program Announced With Obvious Lack of Pharmacist Inclusion
Last week, President Biden announced a test to treat COVID-19 management plan. In the coming weeks, patients will be able to go to an outpatient clinic associated with pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens and get tested for the COVID-19 virus. If they test positive, they will be provided with a free course of antiviral medications. This program has been created to further open access to oral antivirals without the delays patients are facing that excludes them from the short treatment window.
However, this program has received mixed reviews from pharmacists across the nation after being excluded from testing and treating patients. This comes after several provisions in the Federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) Act allowing pharmacists to order and administer monoclonal therapeutics for patients who fit the criteria for care. Additionally, pharmacists are experts in considering drug interactions to care for patients needing oral antivirals.
NewAPhA Provides Useful Vaccine Confidence Resources
The American Pharmacists Association has created valuable resources to promote vaccine confidence among your patients and pharmacy team. These resources will provide critical information about the COVID-19 vaccines with answers to commonly asked questions. See the webpage here.
Reminder: Federal Government Supplies All Homes with Four Free COVID-19 Tests
Last week the federal government announced that every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-home COVID-19 tests. Orders are being shipped by the United States Postal Service (USPS), and distribution dates are 7-12 days from ordering. Please direct your patients to order the tests through this website: https://special.usps.com/testkits. Here is a flyer that can be printed and posted in your pharmacy.
Patients who have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support to order at home COVID -19 tests can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages. The phone line is open from 8 AM to midnight EST every day of the week. The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is also available to specifically help people with disabilities place their orders. To get help, call 1-888-677-1199, Monday-Friday from 9 AM to 8 PM EST, or email [email protected].
Warning: The National Institutes of Health state that COVID-19 at-home tests stored below 36 °F or above 86 °F can deliver inaccurate results. With recent Ohio temperatures, test kits left in mailboxes overnight probably should not be used. Most studies have found that frozen and then thawed liquid reagent in the kit will result in a false-negative rather than a false-positive result. The FDA has stated that individuals should allow any mailed COVID-19 tests to return to room temperature, regardless of the temperature at delivery, over two hours and can choose to administer the test as directed. If there is any discrepancy to the test results, such as inaccurate line formations or no appearance of lines, providers and patients should report the problem through the FDA MedWatch Online Voluntary Reporting Form.
Reminder: Walk-In COVID-19 Vaccine Services Inquiry Survey for Pharmacists Serving Medicaid Populations
A barrier identified in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine among Medicaid populations is a lack of access to vaccine appointments because of life circumstances and other barriers. Ohio’s Medicaid managed care leadership seeks to highlight pharmacies offering walk-in clinics to their membership to allow broader access to the vaccine. If your pharmacy provides walk-in COVID-19 vaccine services for one to many days in the week, please respond to this survey: Walk-In Vaccine Clinic Inquiry.
Reminder: $100 COVID-19 Medicaid Administration Fee Deadline Extended
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 has been extended to June 30, 2022. See further details on the covidvaxonthespot.com on the Provider and Pharmacy Resources webpage. The MCP leadership encourages pharmacies to assist Medicaid patients with accessing first, second, and booster shots through phone calls, walk-in appointments, and other personalized outreach.
Reminder: Medicaid COVID-19 Patient Vaccine $100 Gift Card Incentive Deadline Extended
Ohio’s managed care plans announced that the $100 gift card incentive for Medicaid patients receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been extended to June 30, 2022.
- 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 gift cards needed.
- 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 ensure that you track their use through the 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].
Note: This incentive is available to all Medicaid patients ages five and above who are eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine. A legal guardian must accompany individuals who are minors to receive the gift card incentive.
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 www.ohiopharmacists.org 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].