The article below is a top story from this week's ACTION newsletter—Care Providers of Minnesota's weekly newsletter for members. The newsletter focuses on current legislative issues, regulations, long-term care trends, and other Association news. Each Thursday evening, it is delivered to your inbox. To sign up for ACTION, contact Lisa Foss Olson (952-851-2483). To learn more about membership, visit our Become a Member page.


MDH goes public with vaccine priorities—and LTC is at the top

Patti Cullen, CAE By Patti Cullen, CAE  |  December 11, 2020  |  All members

On December 8, 2020, Governor Tim Walz held a press conference along with Commissioner Jan Malcom and State Epidemiologist Kris Ehresmann. The focus of the presser was to release the state’s initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccine the state will receive from the federal government via new Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidance. After the press event, the four legislative leaders—House Speaker Melissa Hortman, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, and Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent—each spoke in support of the state’s vaccination plan but also emphasized two additional facts: it will be months before the general population will be vaccinated so be patient; and they will all lead by example and get the vaccine.

The “Minnesota Guidance for Allocating and Prioritizing COVID-19 Vaccine–Phase 1A” can be viewed here. The guidance was developed by a MDH Vaccine Advisory Group, of which Care Providers of Minnesota was a member. Highlights of the plan include the following:
  • It is anticipated Minnesota will initially receive 183,000 doses by the end of December—this will permit the initial vaccination of just a portion of the first phase “eligible” estimated 289,000 people in long-term care alone—the federal government will hold back the second batch of doses until they need to be shipped for the second required shot, either 21 days or 28 days later (depending on the vaccine manufacturer) 
    • Note: This allocation number has changed frequently, it could go up or down—MDH expects to receive an updated allocation number on December 11; what is known is that there are approximately 500,000 people in Phase 1a alone; 289,000 in long-term care, so it will take some time to get enough vaccines for even the top priority group
  • MDH wants to “immunize for impact” and “get the biggest bang for the buck” with the immunizations received from the federal government
  • It remains a bit unclear which brands of vaccines we will receive, and when—both Pfizer and Moderna are scheduled for EUA review approval (Pfizer on December 10, Moderna on December 17)—then they will ship to the states; MDH then anticipates approximately a week for training and final administration planning
  • It is possible the Pfizer vaccine may be shipped to metro-based hospitals who may have better capacity for ultra-cold storage and the Moderna may ship to more rural areas in the state; hospitals and “hubs” will receive the vaccines—but for long-term care, it will be pharmacies (we think)
  • If all goes well, initial vaccinations could begin the week of December 21
  • It was pointed out it takes approximately six-weeks from the date of initial injection to achieve a level of protection/immunity after the second required immunization
  • The good news for members of Care Providers of Minnesota:
    • Residents of nursing facilities and healthcare personnel (HCP) at nursing facilities are in Tier 1 of Phase 1a—this is the highest priority; this tier also includes hospital staff working in dedicated COVID units, EMS personnel, COVID testers, and COVID vaccinators
    • Health care personnel (HCP) are defined as any paid or unpaid people serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials—this Tier 1 includes approximately 298,000 people
    • Phase 1a, Tier 2 will include prioritize residents and staff of assisted living facilities
  • 15% of the vaccine supplies have been reallocated to allow for persons identified as high risk via a social vulnerability index (SVI)—use of SVI represents an attempt to incorporate the variables that are most linked to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19
  • Persons receiving the vaccine will receive a card to indicate they have been vaccinated (it is unclear who provides the card or when in the vaccine process the card will be provided)

Watch for more details in our daily member COVID-19 messages as we learn new information every day and have several upcoming meetings with MDH to get specific questions answered.

Patti Cullen, CAE  |  President/CEO  |  |  952-851-2487


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Care Providers of Minnesota is a non-profit membership association with the mission to Empower Members to Performance Excellence. Our 900+ members across Minnesota represent non-profit and for-profit organizations providing services along the full spectrum of post-acute care and long-term services and support. We are the state affiliate for the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, and with our national partners we provide solutions for quality care.

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