COVID-19 Vaccine Providers Newsletter 07.21.2021

  • On July 16, VDH updated the COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard to reflect updated counts for partially and fully vaccinated persons.
    • Following the update to the revised dataset (July 7), the incorporation of daily files into the overall dataset failed to incorporate a step that had been comparing previously received records in the calculation of dose number. This issue was in effect from July 4 - 13. The failure to compare these new administration files to the historic records resulted in these records being marked as first doses in the majority of instances. In reality, those daily files should have more evenly split between first and second doses.
    • Updating these records will result in a decrease (0.9%) in the number and percentage of first doses and an increase (0.88%)  in the number and percentage of second doses. This calculation issue has been resolved and new files are having the dose number calculated appropriately.
    • Additionally, new quality assurance activities will allow the ongoing deduplication of vaccination events in the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS) to be reflected in the reporting data. This will result in numbers potentially decreasing in some localities, which may not be clearly seen at the aggregate level.
    • The demographic page of the dashboard will also be updated to reflect new age ranges that have been requested to show the breakdown of 12-15 and 16-17 year olds.
  • Please be sure to include the diluent vials supplied with your order when redistributing or transporting Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.  Diluent is critical to the administration of Pfizer vaccine and must be included to ensure proper administration.  If the diluent vials have been lost, misplaced, or are no longer useable, CDC recommends the following actions:
    1. Determine how the diluent was lost and develop strategies to prevent this from happening again.  Replacing diluent must be done at the expense of the provider or jurisdiction. Replacement diluent increases the risk of vaccine administration errors and may impact the safety of the vaccine if managed incorrectly.
    2. All COVID-19 vaccines are preservative free.  When replacing diluent for Pfizer vaccine, only 0.9% preservative-free sodium chloride can be used. Do not use bacteriostatic 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection or any other diluent as they contain preservatives.  This information is included in the manufacturer’s fact sheet for healthcare providers.
    3. Diluent vials can only be used once and cannot be repeatedly punctured for multiple vials.  Once diluent has been withdrawn from a vial it MUST be discarded, even if excessive saline is still available in the vial.  Do not be tempted to re-puncture a diluent vial and withdraw additional diluent, even if mixing multiple vials for a mass vaccination clinic.  Use only 1 vial of diluent with 1 vial of Pfizer vaccine.  Failure to follow this practice may impact the safety of the vaccine.  Additional information may be found at: Questions about Single-dose/Single-use Vials | Injection Safety | CDC
    • U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued the first Surgeon General's Advisory of this Administration to warn the American public about the urgent threat of health misinformation. Health misinformation  threatens the U.S. response to COVID-19 and misleads Americans about COVID-19 vaccines.  and  prevents Americans from getting vaccinated, prolonging the pandemic and putting lives at risk. The advisory encourages technology and social media companies to take more responsibility to stop online spread of health misinformation.
    • Read the full Surgeon General's Advisory here.
  • Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People - CDC updated considerations for people who are immunocompromised. The guidance now states "People who are immunocompromised should be counseled about the potential for reduced immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines and to follow current prevention measures (including wearing a maskstaying 6 feet apart from others they don’t live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) to protect themselves against COVID-19 until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider."
  • Pfizer 450 Shipper Update
    • CDC is informing jurisdictions that Pfizer is running short of COVID-19 vaccine shipper boxes and Controlant temperature monitors because of two factors:
    • For all orders placed after 9:30 a.m. EDT, Thursday, July 15, 2021, the following will be in effect:
      • To assist with addressing these shortages, Pfizer 450 orders of 2 or more to the same location may automatically be combined within the same shipper box.
      • Jurisdictions and providers may still order Pfizer 450 packages in single shippers by placing individual orders for each Pfizer 450 package. If an order for a total of 900 doses requires two separate 450 dose packages, two separate orders for Pfizer 450 will need to be placed in VTrckS or VPOP. This policy will not change the configuration of ancillary kits. Ancillary kits will still be shipped in separate boxes of 450 doses each. Orders will still be placed with adult or pediatric intent.
      • Recipients can assist with this shortage by returning shippers and Controlant temperature monitors as soon as possible. Please check the shippers to verify they are completely empty before returning them. Please do not return vaccine or ancillary products in the shippers.
    • Redeployment of At-Risk J&J Vaccine:
      • The freeze on direct Federal shipments of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) Covid-19 vaccine is still in place, which has led VDH to undertake a large effort to fulfil all requests using existing supply across the State. This may lead to receipt of short dated vaccines, as that's what is currently in the State’s possession.
      • If you receive short dated supply, please administer all possible doses and continue to monitor the expiration dates, which can be searched by lot number at the following link :
For any questions about VaxMaX and its functionality, please visit the VaxMaX help website as a resource for reference guides and tutorial videos.

Best Practice Spotlight

  • Providers play an important role building trust in the COVID-19 vaccines among their communities through conversations. These conversations often take time and can be challenging. Prepare yourself for the conversation with the COVID-19 Vaccine Conversation Guide, which outlines effective messages and specific language insights.
  • VDH is also offering a free tele-health platform and other technical support to help providers speak to their patients about COVID-19 vaccine related questions. Learn more here.

For additional information and best practices regarding STFs, please visit this websiteCheck out our complete list of COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Best Practices here

Upcoming Events

  • Vaccine Unit Pharmacy Office Hours: Thank you for your partnership and support in administering vaccines to Virginians. As we transition into the next phase of vaccine rollouts and with our regular meetings coming to an end, we have decided to launch regular office hours as an opportunity to provide updates and answer questions that may arise from partners. These sessions will begin on Thursday, July 8 at 4:00 pm, and occur every other week moving forward for the months of July and August. Attendance is open to all partners, and although optional, we encourage you all to attend so we can provide vaccination updates in Virginia, share best practices, and field your questions and concerns. Please forward and extend the invite to your member pharmacies.
    • Next Session July 22, 2021 at 4:00 pm- To Join click here
  • July 22, 11AM - 4PM: Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Meeting 

Helpful Resources

  • Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People - Updated considerations for people who are immunocompromised. Now states "People who are immunocompromised should be counseled about the potential for reduced immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines and to follow current prevention measures (including wearing a maskstaying 6 feet apart from others they don’t live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) to protect themselves against COVID-19 until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider."

The following resources were also updated with this information:

Information about the COVID-19 vaccination program is changing frequently. This newsletter will offer regular updates to providers who have submitted an intent to vaccinate or signed the CDC provider agreement within Virginia.

VDH COVID-19 Vaccination Response: Healthcare Professionals Website