Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Health Alert Update Issued on COVID-19 Vaccine Second Dose Administration and Timing in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health issued an update on COVID-19 Vaccine Second Dose Administration and Timing. The updated alert highlights the following:

  • Persons receiving the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should follow the recommended scheduling as closely as possible.
  • DOH and CDC recommend receiving the same vaccine product at both vaccinations.
  • If it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval for any reason, including vaccine availability, the second dose may be administered up to 6 weeks after the first dose.
  • Every effort should be made to complete the vaccine series using the same vaccine product.
  • If the first dose product cannot be determined or is unavailable, any available mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at a minimum interval of 28 days between doses.
  • If two doses of different mRNA vaccine products are administered for any reason, no additional doses are recommended at this time.
  • The discordant doses should be noted on the person’s vaccination card.

Click here to access 2021 Health Alerts and Advisories.

Governors Association Appeals to Biden Administration Regarding Vaccine Distribution

The Executive Committee of the National Governors Association (NGA) sent a Feb. 15, 2021 letter to the Biden administration regarding vaccine distribution. This letter specifically mentions federal vaccine distribution efforts to FQHCs and long-term care facilities and pharmacies and calls for more coordination with state governments. The governors state that without this coordination, these direct distribution programs may be redundant and inefficient. The goal of the letter was to seek more clarity from the Administration about the vaccine rollout among all entities. Members of the NGA are complimentary of Community Health Centers and rely on FQHCs for the quality care we provide.

Biden Administration Supports ACA in Letter to Supreme Court

Modern Healthcare reported on February 10, 2021, that the Biden administration showed its support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), writing in a letter to the U.S. Supreme Court that it believes the ACA’s individual mandate is constitutional. The administration added that the law should stand without the mandate, a reversal from the Trump administration’s position. Read More.

Vaccine Order in Pennsylvania Signed Feb. 12

Last week, Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Beam signed an order outlining appropriate steps and recognized best practices to ensure vaccine providers deliver 80 percent of doses within seven days of receipt, provide a phone number where people can speak to an individual to make an appointment, and report race and ethnicity data for everyone vaccinated. If you have questions about the state’s vaccine distribution or new order, contact Eric Kiehl, PACHC Director of Policy and Partnerships. PACHC has already submitted a series of questions to DOH on the order and Sec. Beam has committed to providing a written response.

Pennsylvania Takes Action to Ensure Pennsylvanians Get Second Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the newly formed joint task force with the legislature this week reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that Pennsylvanians will have access to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine within the CDC-recommended timeframe of up to 42 days after the first dose. Acknowledging communications shortcomings and the need for more frequent outreach to providers, Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam outlined plans moving forward. As DOH reviewed and worked to improve the complex processes necessary to get COVID-19 vaccine from the manufacturers into the arms of Pennsylvanians as quickly as possible, they discovered some providers inadvertently administered the Moderna vaccine shipped to them intended as second doses, as first doses. To remedy the situation and remain committed to ensuring that second doses are available, DOH is adjusting the timing of second dose administration following CDC guidelines that set the minimum time between doses at 28 days and the maximum time at 42 days.

How Are We Doing with COVID-19 Vaccination?

Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 55 million doses have been administered, reaching 11.9 percent of the total U.S. population, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The U.S. is currently administering more than 1.8 million shots a day. States will receive 13.5 million doses this week, up from 11 million nationwide last week and a 57 percent increase since President Biden took office. With the recent purchase of 200 million additional doses by the administration, it is projected that the U.S. is on target to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July. In Pennsylvania, 10.7 percent of the population has received at least one dose and 3.6 percent, two doses. That is assuming that all vaccine administrators have inputted their data in PA-SIIS, which is not the case and is one of the reasons the state is reconfiguring its distribution and vaccination strategy. Over the course of the next few weeks, the state will narrow the number of organizations administering the vaccine, with hospitals, health systems, pharmacies and FQHCs prioritized. Distribution decisions will also be influenced by each provider’s effectiveness in getting vaccine in eligible 1A arms within seven days of receipt and analysis of COVID-19 impact in the region. Right now, however, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) is focusing on a course correction to address demand for second dose supply that exceeds total vaccine supply received by the state. Vaccine supply and distribution will be bumpy for a few weeks, but we all hope that predictability and stability of supply will improve thereafter. Sometimes, when the present is challenging and the future hard to envision, it is good to look back. Watch this 3-minute video on polio vaccine rollout.

Improving Access to Care: Medicaid, Telehealth and Health Workforce 101

A post on the NCSL Blog discusses the policy areas of Medicaid, telehealth and health care workforce capacity; and includes relevant state examples and select federal resources for state policymakers aiming to enhance access to health care.

The NCSL blog post was produced through HRSA’s cooperative agreement with the National Organizations of State and Local Officials (NOSLO).

New Research on the Intersection of Pregnancy-Associated Deaths and Intimate Partner Violence

New research examines the three leading causes of pregnancy-associated deaths, describes evidence-based approaches and strategies for prevention and intervention, and makes recommendations for further research.

The research is published in the February 2021 Journal of Women’s Health Special Issue: Maternal Morbidity and Mortality.

The special issue provide a comprehensive review of relevant literature, including biological and physiological risk factors, external risk factors, social determinants of health, and proven and potential interventions.

Sabrina Matoff-Stepp, Ph.D., in HRSA’s Office of Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation and colleagues from NIH, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Virginia collaborated on the research.

Read the article published in the Special Issue.