- The US Government has developed two programs where certain pharmacy partners can now order oral antivirals directly from the government. One program is known as Test to Treat, with a goal of reducing the time to treatment after diagnosis with COVID-19. Currently, Test to Treat partners are certain chain pharmacy locations with clinics based inside for patients to receive a diagnosis of COVID-19 and receive oral antivirals in one location. A fact sheet about the Test to Treat program can be found here The second federal program is the Long-Term Care Partnership Program where certain LTC pharmacies will also have access to direct oral antiviral ordering through the federal government. More information about these programs can be found here.
- National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan- On March 2, the White House released its preparedness plan to address the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The plan includes setting higher standards for Medicare and nursing homes and making sure residents get the care they deserve and expect; staying protected with vaccines and treatments; preparing for new variants; ending the shutdown of schools and businesses; and continuing to vaccinate the world. For more detailed information, visit the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan website.
- New: Science Brief: Indicators for Monitoring COVID-19 Community Levels and Making Public Health Recommendations - This science brief provides an overview of how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Community Levels framework was developed (including how indicators for community levels were selected and assessment of the community levels framework as a predictor of selected outcomes compared to community transmission levels), the data sources it uses, and how jurisdictions can use the information to monitor COVID-19 Community Levels and inform public health action. A comprehensive approach to assessing COVID-19 community levels can inform decisions about layered COVID-19 prevention strategies, with goals of reducing medically significant disease and limiting strain on the healthcare system.
- Updated: Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Approved or Authorized in the United States. The vaccination schedule was updated to reflect the 3 to 8 week consideration for the second dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
- Updated: Interim Guidance for Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2. This CDC page has been updated to include: (1) information on when to consider confirmatory testing in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, (2) a revised antigen testing algorithm , (3) removal of general guidance for congregate settings and addition of links to setting-specific guidance, and (4) removal of general guidance for processing and handling SARS-CoV-2 clinical specimens and addition of links to guidance on quality assurance procedures.
- New: COVID-19 Testing Resources - Includes resources about self-testing, where to get a test, and testing print resources. Found at the bottom of the COVID-19 Testing: What You Need to Know webpage.
- The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of a shelf life extension for Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for an additional three months. The shelf life of this vaccine has been updated from 6 months to 9 months. This decision is based on data from ongoing stability assessment studies, which have demonstrated that the vaccine is stable at 9 months when refrigerated at temperatures of 36o–46o Fahrenheit (2o–8o Celsius).
- This shelf life extension applies to all inventory dated to expire on March 7, 2022 or later. Vaccine dated prior to March 7, 2022 should be disposed of according to state and local regulation and reported as waste according to your COVID-19 provider agreement.
- Vaccine providers should visit the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Expiry Checker webpage to confirm the expiration dates. This shelf life extension applies to refrigerated vials of J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine that have been held in accordance with the manufacturer’s storage conditions.
- COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) do not have fixed expiration dates, and expiration dates may be extended as we get more stability data.
- Always check the manufacturer’s website to obtain the most up-to-date expiration dates for the COVID-19 vaccines you have on hand.
- Updated: Do Not Use Certain Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 Tests. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has been assured that the U.S. Government has not received any of these unauthorized kits, therefore it should not affect the tests sent to skilled nursing facilities (SNF) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Please note that the Celltrion tests sent to SNFs require nasopharyngeal specimen collection. If a Celltrion DiaTrust antigen test in green and white packaging was used in the last two weeks, consider retesting your patients with an FDA authorized test. If testing occurred more than two weeks ago, there is no need to test again.
- Updated: Health Professionals web page - Added hot topic on the change in dosing for Evusheld.
- Updated: General FAQs -
- New questions were added to address CDC's COVID-19 Community Levels. Revisions include updating FAQs about mask guidance
- guidance for people with weakened immune systems or at increased risk for severe illness
- schools K-12 mask guidance; childcare section
- DOLI FAQs
- requirement for proof of COVID-19 vaccination for air passengers.
- Updated: What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease (COVID-19) web page - This page was updated to include general language edits, the ivermectin disclaimer was moved up to be after the "treatment" section, and added Care Resource Coordination under "monitor symptoms" section.
- Please ensure that your point of contact information is up to date for your CDC Agreement and VaxMaX contacts. Below are the steps to verify the POC information:
- VaxMaX: Go to the Provider Portal, select “Update Contacts”
- CDC Agreement: Access your CDC Agreement through VERIP
- Please make sure the contact information is updated whenever the responsibility of ordering or reporting to VaccineFinder has shifted. The CDC requires every provider to report inventory balances DAILY to VaccineFinder. Failing to report can affect your ability to order vaccines.
- For questions about VaxMaX and its functionality, please visit the VaxMaX Help website, which includes reference guides and tutorial videos.
Best Practice Spotlight
- CDC's next PHEP Connects webinar, “Legal Tools for STLT COVID-19 Mitigation Measures,” is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST today, March 9. This webinar will describe the evolution of state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) COVID-19 mitigation policies, their use and impact, and the ways some legal tools have been challenged in court. CDC presenters Gregory Sunshine and Mara Howard-Williams will provide an overview of legal authorities for STLT public health agencies and describe the methodology and scope used to track mitigation policies such as business closures and vaccine mandates. Speakers will also discuss impact analyses of these policies and their implications for future public health emergency response. Participants will expand their knowledge of public health laws implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic and their impact on STLT communities. Participant Login Information:
- Dial-In: (669) 254-5252 (Audio only)
- Meeting ID: 161 241 1865
- Passcode: 569595
- Web Link: https://www.zoomgov.com/j/1612411865
- The Virginia Department of Health is happy to offer a webinar with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) representative, Dr. Andrew Hvizdos, to discuss the clinical significance and impact of Sotrovimab in practice.
- Please register for this webinar here, which will take place on Friday, March 11th, at 12PM-1PM
- Investigating the impact of COVID-19 during pregnancy. CDC is supporting multiple efforts to increase our understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and infants. Data collected as part of these efforts can help direct public health action and inform clinical guidance for the care of affected pregnant women and their infants.
- COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding. New data show that completing a two-dose primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series during pregnancy can help protect babies younger than 6 months old from hospitalization due to COVID-19. In this report, the majority (84%) of babies hospitalized with COVID-19 were born to pregnant people who were not vaccinated during pregnancy.
- New: Materials in the COVID-19 School Testing Toolkit featuring the voices of parents and school leaders discussing why they support school testing for COVID-19:
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.