Flu Shot: Encourage Preferred Vaccines for Patients 65+

It’s time to talk with your patients about flu shots. The CDC recommends annual flu shots for everyone 6 months and older by the end of October or as soon as possible each flu season. You can give flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same visit. New for this flu season: Patients 65 and older should get…

COVID-19 Boosters Available Now, May Become Annual

New COVID-19 booster shots are available now (or within days), according to a Biden administration briefing on the latest developments with the virus’ vaccines. What’s more, the public should expect regular annual booster shots against the virus will be necessary. “It is becoming increasingly clear, that looking forward with the Covid-19 pandemic, in the absence…

Eligible Patients Can Receive Free 2nd COVID Booster

On April 6, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will pay for a second COVID-19 booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines without cost sharing, as it continues to provide coverage for this critical protection from the virus. People with Medicare pay nothing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible. People with Medicaid coverage can also get COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, at no cost.

The CDC recently updated its recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. Certain immunocompromised individuals and people ages 50 years and older who received an initial booster dose at least 4 months ago are eligible for another booster to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19. Additionally, the CDC recommends that adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago can receive a second booster dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine, including the booster doses, is the best defense against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from the virus. CMS continues to explore ways to ensure maximum access to COVID-19 vaccinations. More information regarding the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Requirements and how the COVID-19 vaccine is provided through that program at no cost to recipients is available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/vaccination-provider-support.html and through the CMS COVID-19 Provider Toolkit.

People can visit vaccines.gov (English) or vacunas.gov (Spanish) to search for vaccines nearby.

Eligible Patients Can Receive Free 2nd COVID Booster

On April 6, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will pay for a second COVID-19 booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines without cost sharing, as it continues to provide coverage for this critical protection from the virus. People with Medicare pay nothing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,…

CMS Encourages People with Medicare to get COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging those with Medicare who are fully vaccinated to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows that a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose increases immune response, which improves protection against COVID-19.

CMS is doing the following to encourage those with Medicare to get fully vaccinated and get their booster dose:

  • Sending a letter to people with Medicare: All of the 63 million people who currently have Medicare will receive a letter encouraging them to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as possible.
  • Conducting campaigns and paid advertising: This outreach will focus on those with Medicare who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and will include reminders about getting the annual flu shot.
  • Including 1-800 MEDICARE reminders: Approximately two million people call 1-800-MEDICARE each month. They will hear a reminder to get their COVID-19 boosters at the beginning of their call.
  • Including a message in Medicare Summary Notices: For people with Original Medicare, CMS will include a COVID-19 booster message in their Medicare Summary Notice (the explanation of benefits people receive when a claim is filed) over the next several months.
  • Sending email reminders: CMS will send COVID-19 vaccine booster reminder emails to the more than 14 million people that receive Medicare emails.
  • Delivering consistent communication via social media: The @MedicareGov Twitter handle will continue to tweet about the importance of COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
  • Engaging local and national partners: CMS is contacting more than 500 organizations, with a potential reach of more than five million members, and supplying them resources from Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency is also offering webinars to allow partners to interact with experts on encouraging COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Conducting outreach to health plans: CMS and CDC are continuing their outreach to health plans to help them understand best practices for encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations and parameters for coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
  • Conducting outreach to nursing homes: CMS continues to work with nursing homes to increase COVID-19 vaccine and booster uptake. These efforts include deploying Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs)–operated under the Medicare Quality Improvement Program–to assist nursing homes with low rates of initial and booster vaccinations and disparities in access to vaccinations. CMS will continue to explore additional outreach efforts to further support nursing homes.
  • Conducting media outreach: CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and other CMS leaders are encouraging COVID-19 vaccine boosters as part of their Medicare open enrollment outreach.

People with Medicare pay nothing when they get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible. In addition, thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP), nearly all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries must receive coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters without cost-sharing. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters will also be covered without cost-sharing for eligible consumers of most health insurance issuers in the commercial market.  People can visit vaccines.gov (English) or vacunas.gov (Spanish) to search for vaccines nearby.

CMS continues to explore ways to ensure maximum access to COVID-19 vaccinations. More information regarding the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Requirements and how the COVID-19 vaccine is provided through that program at no cost to recipients is available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/vaccination-provider-support.html and through the CMS COVID-19 Provider Toolkit.

CDC guidance on when to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster based on the last vaccine dose is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html?s_cid=11706:cdc%20covid%20booster%20recommendations:sem.ga:p:RG:GM:gen:PTN:FY22.

CMS Encourages People with Medicare to get COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging those with Medicare who are fully vaccinated to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows that a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose increases immune response, which improves protection against COVID-19. CMS is doing the following to encourage those with Medicare to get fully…

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…