COVID-19

Pharmacy Administering Vaccine: CVS

Swope Ridge Geriatric Center selected CVS/Omnicare as our pharmacy to administer the vaccine when it becomes available. This means that the entire process from procurement of the vaccinations to administration of the vaccinations will be handled by CVS/Omnicare during this first round. Administration of subsequent vaccines following the first round is yet to be determined. We will update that information once we have it available.

In response to the many unknowns, CVS Health has provided an online resource to guide you through the COVID-19 vaccination clinic journey and what to expect. Please check out https://www.omnicare.com/covid-19-vaccine-resource for access to these resources.

Timeframe of Vaccination Administration from CVS for Swope Ridge Geriatric Center:

Early January 2021. According to our CVS/Omnicare representative, our residents and staff are expected to begin our first of three vaccination dates in early January 2021. When we receive the actual dates, we will update this information.

COVID-19 Vaccine Myths Debunked- from Mayo Clinic’s News Network (https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/covid-19-vaccine-myths-debunked/) as of Wednesday, December 9. 2020:

A vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic. A number of biopharmaceutical companies have applied for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization for a new COVID-19 vaccine and a limited number of vaccines will be available before the end of the year.

It is likely that you have heard claims about the COVID-19 vaccine on social media or from people in your life. The quick development and approval of a vaccine may increase your hesitancy about its safety or effectiveness. Let’s set the record straight on circulating myths about the COVID-19 vaccine.

 Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine is not safe because it was rapidly developed and tested.

Fact: Many pharmaceutical companies invested significant resources into quickly developing a vaccine for COVID-19 because of the world-wide impact of the pandemic. The emergency situation warranted an emergency response but that does not mean that companies bypassed safety protocols or perform adequate testing.

Mayo Clinic will recommend the use of those vaccines that we are confident are safe. While there are many COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development, early interim data are encouraging for the Pfizer vaccine which likely is to be the first authorized for emergency use by the FDA in the late December/early January timeframe. This vaccine was created using a novel technology based on the molecular structure of the virus. The novel methodology to develop a COVID-19 vaccine allows it to be free from materials of animal origin and synthesized by an efficient, cell-free process without preservatives. This vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTecH has been studied in approximately 43,000 people.

To receive emergency use authorization, the biopharmaceutical manufacturer must have followed at least half of the study participants for at least two months after completing the vaccination series, and the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that population. In addition to the safety review by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization has convened a panel of vaccine safety experts to independently evaluate the safety data from the clinical trial. Mayo Clinic vaccine experts also will review the available data. The safety of COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA.

 Myth: I already had COVID-19 and recovered, so I don’t need to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available.

Fact: There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. This is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Mayo Clinic recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine, even if you’ve had COVID-19 previously. However, those that had COVID-19 should delay vaccination until about 90 days from diagnosis. People should not get vaccinated if in quarantine after exposure or if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Myth: There are severe side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Fact: There are short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve without complication or injury. The early phase studies of the Pfizer vaccine show that it is safe. About 15% of people developed short lived symptoms at the site of the injection.  50% developed systemic reactions primarily headache, chills, fatigue or muscle pain or fever lasting for a day or two. Keep in mind that these side effects are indicators that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and are common when receiving vaccines.

Myth: I won’t need to wear a mask after I get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fact: It may take time for everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccination to get one. Also, while the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown at this time if you can still carry and transmit the virus to others. Until more is understood about how well the vaccine works, continuing with precautions such as mask-wearing and physical distancing will be important.

Myth: More people will die as a result of a negative side effect to the COVID-19 vaccine than would actually die from the virus.

Fact: Circulating on social media is the claim that COVID-19’s mortality rate is 1%-2% and that people should not be vaccinated against a virus with a high survival rate. However, a 1% mortality rate is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. In addition, the mortality rate can vary widely and is influenced by age, sex and underlying health condition.

While some people that receive the vaccine may develop symptoms as their immune system responds, remember that this is common when receiving any vaccine and not considered serious or life-threatening. You cannot get COVID-19 infection from the COVID-19 vaccines; they are inactivated vaccines and not live vaccines.

It’s important to recognize that getting the vaccine is not just about survival from COVID-19. It’s about preventing spread of the virus to others and preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects. While no vaccine is 100% effective, they are far better than not getting a vaccine. The benefits certainly outweigh the risks in healthy people.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine was developed as a way to control the general population either through microchip tracking or nano transducers in our brains. 

Fact: There is no vaccine “microchip” and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database. This myth started after comments made by Bill Gates from The Gates Foundation about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner and is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA.

Fact: The first COVID-19 vaccines to reach the market are likely to be messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. According to the CDC, mRNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Injecting mRNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells. Human cells break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after they have finished using the instructions.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.

Fact: Current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were not created with and do not require the use of fetal cell cultures in the production process.

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers from Missouri Health Care Association as of Friday, December 11, 2020:

Through our annual membership with Missouri Health Care Association, we have been provided a great summary of vaccine information and answers to many of our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). We wanted to share this great information with our residents, families, friends and community. Please note the following updates as of Friday, December 11, 2020.

Provided below are the important updates for this week including a very long update on the latest information about the vaccination program.  As always, MHCA will be here to assist you in any way you need.

IMPORTANT UPDATES AND LATEST INFORMATION REGARDING MISSOURI’S COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM

As we reported last week, the roll out of the vaccination program continues to be fluid.  We have been working closely with the state throughout the week and will update you on the latest information we know.

1) Prioritization:  Residents and staff in SNFs/ICFs and the staff in RCFs/ALFs have been included in Tier 1a.  Residents in RCFs/ALFs are included in Tier 1b.  We are not sure what the difference in the timeline will be for Tier 1a or 1b yet, if any.

2) Vaccine:  Late yesterday, we learned that all long-term care facilities will receive the Moderna vaccine.  Originally, we were told we would get the Pfizer vaccine but that is no longer the case.  There are multiple factors that went into this decision, including the cold storage requirements for Pfizer vs. Moderna and the number of doses of each the state will be allocated.  The state will be allocated a larger number of the Moderna vaccine, making it easier to get all long-term care facilities vaccinated quicker and in a shorter time period.  In addition, since pharmacies will be vaccinating at your facilities rather than in the pharmacy, the cold storage requirements for the Pfizer vaccine were concerning.  Since the Moderna vaccine can be stored at higher temperatures, it was a better choice for the off-site clinics necessary to vaccinate our residents and staff.

3) Date Vaccinations Will Begin:  Last week we told you vaccinations would begin on December 21.  The Moderna vaccine has not been approved but is expected to be approved on December 17.  Assuming the vaccine is approved, it will ship immediately.  There is a chance that some facilities will be able to be vaccinated on December 21, but it is more likely it will be closer to December 28.  Regardless, please be prepared to receive notice that your facility will be vaccinated any time December 21 or after.

4) Number of Doses and Time Between Doses:  The Moderna vaccine will require two doses 28 days apart.  Residents and staff will not be able to receive their second doses any sooner than 29 days after the first dose.

5) Number of Visits Pharmacies Will Make to the Facility to Vaccinate:  The pharmacy partners (CVS/Walgreens) have committed to coming to each facility 3 times.  We believe each of the visits will be 29 days apart.  The pharmacies will be reaching out to you to coordinate and schedule the initial visits.  They will also coordinate the 2nd and 3rd visit with you likely at that time or when they are in your facility during the first visit.

6) Consents:  Walgreens and CVS will require consent forms.  These consent forms and other documentation cannot be finalized until the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is approved, which is expected to happen on December 17.  Please be prepared for a quick turn-around of documents and consents.

7) Vaccine Allotment Each Facility Will Receive:  The state believes they will receive enough allotment to vaccinate all your residents and all your staff during the first visit.

8) Prioritization if Facility Does not Receive Enough Vaccine to Vaccinate Entire Facility:  As stated in the FAQ document sent out last week, each facility should have a prioritization plan in case it does not receive enough of the vaccine to vaccinate everyone.  Several facilities have reached out asking for advice.  DHSS will not be advising facilities, or any other health care providers, on how to prioritize its vaccinations.  DHSS believes each facility is better suited to analyze its own individual needs.

We are hearing that many facilities prefer to vaccinate all their residents first then prioritize staff as necessary.  In addition, you will need to consider how you will ensure employees are available for your vaccination clinic if those employees are working a different shift than the on-site vaccination clinic hours.

9) Staggering Staff Vaccinations:  Some facilities have raised the question about staggering the vaccinations of staff in case any side effects would prevent staff from working.  We have talked to individuals who participated in the study.  It is our understanding from these individuals that side effects from the first dose of the vaccine are very mild to non-existent.  The side effects from the second dose are more noticeable and flu-like with mild fever, aches and pains for 24 – 48 hours before subsiding.  Facilities are encouraged to vaccinate all staff and residents assuming they receive enough allocation and since the pharmacy partners will only come to the facilities 3 times.  However, if staggering the vaccination of your staff is necessary, it can be figured out and done within the 3 visits from the pharmacy partner.  To do this, you would need to make sure that all staff was being vaccinated during the 2nd visit by your pharmacy partner by either receiving their first dose, if not vaccinated on the first visit, or their second dose if they received their first dose at the first visit.  The third visit by the pharmacy partner would be for all staff and residents that had not received their second doses yet.

10) Vaccination of New Admissions or New Employees:  The pharmacy partners will vaccinate any new admissions or new staff in the facility during their 2nd and 3rd visits.  After the 3rd visit from the pharmacy partners, each facility will need to coordinate through their Medical Directors for future vaccinations.  It is believed that by the time the 3rd visit happens, there will be more vaccines available and therefore, access to the vaccine will be easier.

11) Vaccination of Outside Providers:  Outside providers in nursing homes are considered Health Care Workers under Tier 1a of the Vaccination plan.  However, logistically, it is more challenging for the outside providers to get vaccinated since they travel from facility to facility.  If an outside provider is in your facility and wishes to be vaccinated on the days of your vaccination clinic, you can choose to have the outside provider vaccinated, assuming the facility receives enough doses in its vaccine allotment.  However, that outside provider will need to ensure it will be able to access the 2nd dose either by coordinating with you to be in your facility during subsequent visits 29 days after their first dose or by coordinating with another provider to receive the 2nd dose (of the same vaccine) no sooner than 29 days after the first dose.  Such providers include but are not limited to therapy, hospice, dental, podiatry, optometry, wound care, radiology, essential caregivers, agency staff, clergy, and ombudsman.

12) Vaccination Process for Facilities that Did Not Choose Walgreens or CVS as  Pharmacy Partner:  We are working closely with the state to ensure that every facility is partnered with a pharmacy so all facilities are able to vaccinate its residents and staff ASAP.  Facilities must be partnered with a pharmacy so that vaccinations can occur at the facility.  COVID-19 vaccinator pharmacies must be approved by the state and the allocation of the vaccine is coming directly from the state who is receiving it directly from the federal government.

If your facility chose its current pharmacy and did not list Walgreens or CVS as a contingency or back-up pharmacy, you are likely not partnered with a pharmacy.  Likewise, if the facility did not register for the federal vaccination program at all, you are not partnered with a pharmacy.  The state has a list of every facility not partnered and is working quickly to partner these facilities with a pharmacy.

Please note – the COVID-19 vaccination process is not simple due to the cold storage component of the vaccine and the logistics of setting up an on-site pharmacy clinic multiple times within a certain time frame.  If you are one of those facilities that did not get paired up with Walgreens or CVS, I strongly encourage you to accept the pharmacy you are matched with and get your facility vaccinated.  We know many facilities are loyal to their day-to-day pharmacy, however, the complex nature of this process and the importance of immediately vaccinating your facility has, at least for now, limited this process.

13) Contact Information for Walgreens and CVS:  If you have not heard from CVS or Walgreens and you know you signed up for one of those pharmacies, you will be contacted.  Many facilities have reached out asking for a contact for both; however, we do not have a good contact at this time.  We know that both pharmacies are working to contact each facility.  Once we have an accurate contact for Walgreens and CVS, we will share.

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