New Sepsis Training Module Now Available

Health care providers now have a new resource at their disposal to help identify and treat sepsis patients in austere environments: a free, 70-minute online training module entitled Disaster Medicine: Sepsis. Please consider sharing the information across your networks. The module provides recommendations to identify and manage sepsis under austere conditions. The training features insights from…

New Sepsis Training Module Now Available

Health care providers now have a new resource at their disposal to help identify and treat sepsis patients in austere environments: a free, 70-minute online training module entitled Disaster Medicine: Sepsis. Please consider sharing the information across your networks.

The module provides recommendations to identify and manage sepsis under austere conditions. The training features insights from four federal physicians with extensive experience with the challenges of delivering critical care during disasters and public health emergencies.

The Division of Research, Innovation and Ventures (DRIVe) within the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and the Sepsis Alliance collaborated with experts from ASPR and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop the training module to assist emergency management and disaster response personnel, as well as medical staff responsible for triage in disaster settings.

According to the CDC, nearly 87 percent of sepsis originate outside the hospital. Therefore, it is critical to recognize these patients early within non-traditional clinical environments. The module is intended to address a gap identified in traditional disaster medicine training available to health care providers: education on the recognition and management of patients at risk of or presenting with sepsis. By focusing on disaster scenarios, this module emphasizes the identification, screening, stabilization, and evacuation of those suspected of developing sepsis and septic patients in austere conditions, with non-traditional clinical environments, and where there is a lack of laboratory testing.

Populations affected by disasters can be exposed to a variety of health hazards, such as trauma, burns, poor sanitation, and mass sheltering, all of which place them at increased risk of infection and, in turn, sepsis. Under the austere, resource-limited conditions typical of disaster zones, the clinical identification and management of sepsis can be more challenging than normal operating conditions in conventional health care settings.

Hopefully, those who utilize the training come away with greater insight into recognizing, assessing and evacuating sepsis or at-risk patients, and an increased awareness of the impact of sepsis as a health security threat on a national scale. This new online training module covers the foundational principles underlying all sepsis care; the identification of sepsis patients in field conditions where recognizing at-risk populations and the signs and symptoms of sepsis can be especially challenging; the screening and stabilization of septic patients in the field; and the challenges of coordinating evacuation of septic patients from a disaster site.

Health care professionals can receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit or nursing continuing education contact hours upon successful completion of the training. Sepsis Alliance has made the free training available at the Sepsis Alliance Institute. Sepsis Alliance is an accredited provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (Provider Number CEP17068). In support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by Medical Education Resources (MER) and Sepsis Alliance. MER is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the health care team.

Statement from HHS Secretary on COVID-19 Vaccine for 5-11-year-olds

Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation to make 5-11 year old children eligible for COVID-19 vaccines after the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA)’s authorization, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra issued this statement on the landmark moment to increase children’s protection during this pandemic:

“This is another major milestone in our efforts to protect more children, their families, and our communities as we work to end the pandemic. We are following the data and science, and after a thorough review by FDA and CDC, we are ready to get millions of children vaccinated. Thanks to their rigorous, comprehensive and independent review of the data, we know that vaccination of younger children against COVID-19 proved to be safe and effective.

“As we deliver millions of doses nationwide, we are working with states, localities, pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals, pharmacies and other trusted health care providers for families to ensure equitable access to the vaccine for our nation’s kids. Looking toward winter and the holiday season, we have another significant opportunity to get ahead of this pandemic and protect kids ages 5-11 from what has become a cause of death in this age group. We know many families are trying to decide what is right for them, and we encourage anyone seeking additional information talk to a doctor or health care provider to get the facts. COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and those you love from COVID-19, and the Biden-Harris Administration will continue working every day to get as many people vaccinated and protected from COVID-19 as possible.”

OIG Reports on Home Health Agency Infection Control Audit

An audit of eight home health agencies (HHAs) by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that most had infection control policies and procedures that met the stndards set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and followed CMS COVID-19 guidance to safeguard Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and staff during the coronavirus pandemic, according…

What Clinicians Need to Know About Latest CDC Recommendations for Pfizer COVID Boosters

Tuesday, September 28, 2021, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM ET No registration required A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call will give clinicians an overview of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccination. Clinicians will learn about the vaccine booster recommendations, safety of booster dose, and clinical guidance for using the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster…

Administration Announces Plan for COVID-19 Booster Shots in Late September

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced today the Biden Administration has developed a plan to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots this fall, subject to an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issuing booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice has strongly communicated to HHS how important it is that shipments of booster vaccines be sent directly to home care providers, so that safe and efficient booster vaccinations of the elderly and disabled – the most at-risk population – can take place in the home. NAHC will continue to make this case and we will keep our members up to date on this critically important topic.

“We look forward to working with the Administration to get vaccines to a very vulnerable group of individuals who, in many cases, are homebound and cannot otherwise secure the life-saving Covid vaccines and booster shots,” said NAHC President Bill Dombi, in response to the news.

The booster shots would begin to be offered to Americans in the week of September 20, in response to evidence that protection against the novel coronavirus COVID-19 could wane over time. The highly contagious delta variant of the virus continues to ravage parts of the country, particularly among unvaccinated persons.

“Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout,” read a joint statement by federal health officials on Wednesday, August 18. (You can read the entire statement at the end of this article.)

Persons will be eligible for a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots eight months after they received their second dose. Additional shots are already being administered to people with compromised immune systems.

It is likely the boosters will be offered first to health care workers, people over 65, and nursing home residents, similar to the original rollout of the vaccines.

“We would also begin efforts to deliver booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that Covid-19 poses to them,” read the joint statement.

While the plan announced today does not include the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it is believed booster shots will also be needed for the group that received that vaccine. Health officials are waiting for more data on the effectiveness of the J&J vaccine, which should be coming within the next few days.

It is important to note that the current vaccines continue to offer excellent protection. The vaccines provided a 95 percent protection against hospitalization before the delta variant and 92 percent protection against hospitalization during the delta variant.

Only after a thorough review of the evidence will CDC’s independent advisory committee make recommendations on the use of boosters for the public.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), composed of medical and public health experts, develops recommendations, and provides guidance to the CDC Director on the use of vaccines for the general public.

For more information, please check the NAHC COVID-19 Vaccine and Resources page and the Coronavirus Resources page.

The full statement from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dr. Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General; Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health; Dr. David Kessler, Chief Science Officer for the COVID-19 Response; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, is below.

“The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. Recognizing that many vaccines are associated with a reduction in protection over time, and acknowledging that additional vaccine doses could be needed to provide long lasting protection, we have been analyzing the scientific data closely from the United States and around the world to understand how long this protection will last. The available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection does begin to decrease over time following the initial vaccinations given, and in association with the dominance of the Delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout. For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and stay ahead of the virus.

“We have developed a plan to begin offering these booster shots this fall once FDA conducts an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issues booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence. We are prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose. At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster. We would also begin efforts to deliver booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that COVID-19 poses to them.

“We also anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the U.S. until March 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the next few weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well.

“Our top priority remains staying ahead of the virus and protecting the American people from COVID-19 with safe, effective, and long-lasting vaccines especially in the context of a constantly changing virus and epidemiologic landscape. We will continue to follow the science on a daily basis, and we are prepared to modify this plan should new data emerge that requires it.

“We also want to emphasize the ongoing urgency of vaccinating the unvaccinated in the U.S. and around the world. Nearly all the cases of severe disease, hospitalization, and death continue to occur among those not yet vaccinated at all. We will continue to ramp up efforts to increase vaccinations here at home and to ensure people have accurate information about vaccines from trusted sources. We will also continue to expand our efforts to increase the supply of vaccines for other countries, building on the more than 600 million doses we have already committed to donate globally.”

Administration Announces Plan for COVID-19 Booster Shots in Late September

NAHC: Providers of care in the home need access to COVID-19 booster vaccines Full information on the NAHC COVID-19 Vaccine and Resources page The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced today the Biden Administration has developed a plan to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots this fall, subject to an independent evaluation and determination…

OSHA Updates Guidance on Protecting Unvaccinated and At-Risk Workers from COVID-19

  • Medicare to pay for COVID-19 booster vaccines

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued updated guidance to help employers protect workers from the coronavirus. The updated guidance reflects developments in science and data, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated COVID-19 guidance issued July 27.

The updated guidance expands information on appropriate measures for protecting workers in higher-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers, particularly where there is often prolonged close contact with other workers and/or non-workers.

OSHA’s latest guidance:

  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial or high community transmission wear masks in order to protect unvaccinated workers;
  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers who have close contacts with people with coronavirus wear masks for up to 14 days unless they have a negative coronavirus test at least 3-5 days after such contact;
  • Clarifies recommendations to protect unvaccinated workers and other at-risk workers in manufacturing, meat and poultry processing, seafood processing and agricultural processing; and
  • Links to the latest guidance on K-12 schools and CDC statements on public transit.

OSHA continues to emphasize that vaccination is the optimal step to protect workers and encourages employers to engage with workers and their representatives to implement multi-layered approaches to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers from the coronavirus.

As part of the agency’s ongoing commitment to review the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard every 30-days, OSHA also said that the safeguards set forth by the standard remain more important than ever. After reviewing the latest guidance, science and data, and consulting with the CDC and partners, OSHA has determined the requirements of the healthncare ETS remain necessary to address the grave danger of the coronavirus in health care.

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In other COVID-19 news, Medicare will pay for administering an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine consistent with the FDA emergency use authorization (EUA). Medicare will pay the same amount to administer this additional dose as it did for other doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (approximately $40 each).

CMS expects to share more information in the coming days about billing and coding.

OSHA Updates Guidance on Protecting Unvaccinated and At-Risk Workers from COVID-19

Medicare to pay for COVID-19 booster vaccines The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued updated guidance to help employers protect workers from the coronavirus. The updated guidance reflects developments in science and data, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated COVID-19 guidance issued July 27. The updated…

CDC vaccine advisory panel to weigh boosters’ necessity, J&J side effects

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will convene July 22 to discuss a pair of recent issues related to COVID-19 vaccines. The agenda released ahead of the meeting includes discussion of the reported risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which recently prompted the Food and…