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December 13, 2020

COVID-19 Vaccine on its Way. Following Thursday's recommendation by the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday night announced that it issued an Emergency Use authorization for the BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. You may view the actual EUA here. The FDA also released a fact sheet on the vaccine, which is the official information targeted to people who are receiving (or considering receiving) it. As for the federal approvals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) yesterday voted in an emergency meeting to recommend the vaccine for individuals 16 and older. The only remaining step is for CDC Director Robert Redfield to ratify ACIP's recommendation. Reportedly, however, the vaccine is already on the move. According to General Gus Perna, who heads up Operation Warp Speed, the federal program pushing vaccine development and distribution, in the initial round 145 sites are to receive vaccine on Monday, then 425 more on Tuesday, and another 66 on Wednesday.

Relative to the long-term care vaccine distribution process, we heard from one member yesterday who already had received their vaccine clinic dates from CVS under the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care, so please look for clinic information to come from your partner pharmacy. If you have had no contact at all from a partner, please email Pete Van Runkle to verify if you are in the program.

Resource for Families on Coping with COVID-19 (from AHCA/NCAL). AHCA has created a free resource for SNF, assisted living, and ICF/IID members to share with their residents’ families who are struggling to understand the challenges of Coping with COVID. The YouTube video is about 25 minutes long and covers a gamut of information that is directly aimed at the families and how they can support their loved ones, their community, and the facility. The thought process is that facilities can share this YouTube video with families so that they can understand the grief and trauma that is associated with COVID and the challenges of keeping the virus from spreading. More information can be found on our website which is located here:

Expand Compassionate Care Visits for the Holidays. With most SNFs, assisted living communities, and ICFs/IID across Ohio locked down, in terms of visitation, because of the prevalence of COVID-19 in the general community or because of outbreaks, and with leaves of absence to visit family being highly risky, please remember that compassionate care visits may offer an opportunity to meet the need for family contact with residents. It is no coincidence that ODH reports complaints about facilities (and, as a result, complaint surveys) increased significantly as visitation was suspended. Per the Department of Health (ODH) order on visitation for SNFs and assisted living, compassionate care visits can be done for a broad range of reasons. While the ICF version of the ODH order specifically refers to end-of-life visitation (an early descriptor of compassionate care), general visitation is more flexible for ICFs, so it can accommodate compassionate care visits even though the ICF may not allow routine visits because of COVID-19 prevalence. Scheduling compassionate care visits in the controlled facility environment may help relieve pressure for leaves of absence and dispel family dissatisfaction that leads to complaints.

For SNFs, there is some question about compassionate care visits in COVID-19 units (to residents with COVID-19) because of language in the ODH order. ODH somewhat clarified this issue by writing, in response to a question from OHCA, "[f]ederal citations would be based on the federal requirements." Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Quality, Safety, and Oversight letter 20-39-NH does not restrict compassionate care visits to non-COVID-19 areas.