Preparing for the COVID-19 Vaccine

A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is critical to our city returning to normalcy by reducing COVID-19 related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. The Philadelphia Immunization Program is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure COVID-19 vaccine is accessible to anyone in the city of Philadelphia who wish to be vaccinated. We can only realize this goal with the help of providers like you stepping up to vaccinate as soon as vaccine is available. Now more than ever it is vital that routine vaccinations are administered, especially those providing direct care, maintaining societal function, and those at highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.

The Philadelphia Immunization program is here to assist you with all the ins and outs of vaccination throughout the pandemic. Below are updates and resources related to the COVID-19 vaccine and maintaining routine vaccination during the continuing pandemic response. We’ve also listed the contact information for key Philadelphia Immunization Program staff members here to help you order and maintain your vaccine. If you have a general questions regarding COVID-19 vaccine please contact us at vaccines@phila.gov.

Thank you for your tireless efforts during these unprecedented times. Together we will keep Philadelphia healthy.

Help us help you. Take our immunization service survey!

VFC and VFAAR Providers! In order to better support you during this time, please complete this survey so that we can better understand your immunization needs.

COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall

If you attended a COVID-19 town hall and want a copy of the powerpoint, you can download a copy here.

To attend a town hall, please check out our events page!

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

10/29/20 CMS Acts to Ensure Coverage of COVID-19 Vaccines & Therapeutics
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) just released new Medicare payment rates for COVID-19 vaccine administration. The Medicare payment rates will be $28.39 to administer single-dose vaccines. For a COVID-19 vaccine requiring a series of two or more doses, the initial dose(s) administration payment rate will be $16.94, and $28.39 for the administration of the final dose in the series. These rates will be geographically adjusted and recognize the costs involved in administering the vaccine, including the additional resources involved with required public health reporting, conducting important outreach and patient education, and spending additional time with patients answering any questions they may have about the vaccine. Medicare beneficiaries, those in Original Medicare or enrolled in Medicare Advantage, will be able to get the vaccine at no cost.

Want updates sent right to your inbox? Email vaccines@phila.gov to join the Philadelphia Immunization Program’s COVID-19 vaccine mailing list.

Ordering COVID-19 Vaccine

All medical facilities who regularly provide vaccine are eligible to enroll into our COVID-19 vaccine program. The Immunization Program will be posting an enrollment form for our COVID-19 vaccine program soon. Please check this page and your email regularly for that announcement. Not on our mailing list? Email vaccines@phila.gov to get COVID-19 vaccine and other immunization information.

Enrollment

We will be posting an electronic enrollment form for our COVID-19 vaccine program soon. Please check this page and your email regularly for that announcement. Not on our mailing list? Email vaccines@phila.gov to get COVID-19 vaccine and other immunization information.

How to Order COVID-19

We’ll have more information regarding ordering COVID-19 once our COVID-19 Vaccine Program enrollment form is released.

Maintaining Immunizations During The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink how we provide routine vaccinations for our communities. As postponing or cancelling non-urgent elective procedures and telemedicine become the new normal, we must adapt our strategies to ensure immunization rates are maintained. We cannot risk a vaccine preventable disease outbreak to occur during the global pandemic!

Routine vaccination is an essential preventive care service for everyone and should not be delayed because of COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has reduced access to vaccination services and caused a decrease in routine immunizations. Because of this, it is important to assess the vaccination status of all patients at each visit to avoid missed opportunities for vaccination and ensure timely vaccine catch-up. All vaccines due or overdue should be administered according to the recommended CDC immunization schedules during that visit, unless a specific contraindication exists, to provide protection as soon as possible as well as minimize the number of healthcare visits needed to complete vaccination.

Safe Delivery of Vaccination Services

The potential for asymptomatic transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 underscores the importance of infection prevention practices. Immunization providers must use infection prevention practices, including physical distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene, surface decontamination, and source control, while encountering patients in a healthcare facility. Please refer to the guidance developed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings.

To help ensure the safe delivery of care during vaccination visits, providers should:

  • Minimize chances for exposures, including:
    • Screen for symptoms of COVID-19 and contact with persons with possible COVID-19 prior to and upon arrival at the facility and isolate symptomatic patients as soon as possible.
    • Limit and monitor points of entry to the facility and install barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, to limit physical contact with patients at triage.
    • Implement policies for the use of a cloth face covering in persons over the age of 2 years (if tolerated).
    • Ensure adherence to respiratory hygiene, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene.
  • Ensure all staff adhere to the following infection prevention and control procedures:
    • Follow Standard Precautions, which includes guidance for hand hygiene and cleaning the environment between patients.
    • Wear a medical facemask at all times.
    • Use eye protection based on level of community transmission:
    • Moderate to substantial: Healthcare providers should wear eye protection given the increased likelihood of encountering asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.
    • Minimal to none: Universal eye protection is considered optional, unless otherwise indicated as a part of Standard Precautions.
  • Additional considerations for vaccine administration:
    • Intranasal or oral vaccines:
      • Healthcare providers should wear gloves when administering intranasal or oral vaccines because of the increased likelihood of coming into contact with a patient’s mucous membranes and body fluids. Gloves should be changed between patients in addition to performing hand hygiene.
      • Administration of these vaccines is not considered an aerosol-generating procedure and thus, the use of an N95 or higher-level respirator is not recommended.
    • Intramuscular or subcutaneous vaccines:
    • Ensure physical distancing by implementing strategies, such as:
      • Separating sick from well patients by scheduling these visits during different times of the day (e.g., well visits in the morning and sick visits in the afternoon), placing patients with sick visits in different areas of the facility, or scheduling patients with sick visits in a different location from well visits (when available).
      • Reduce crowding in waiting areas by asking patients to remain outside (e.g., stay in their vehicles, if applicable) until they are called into the facility for their appointment.
      • Ensure that physical distancing measures, with separation of at least 6 feet between patients and visitors, are maintained during all aspects of the visit, including check-in, checkout, screening procedures, and postvaccination monitoring using strategies such as physical barriers, signs, ropes, and floor markings.
      • Utilize electronic communications as much as possible (e.g., filling out needed paperwork online in advance) to minimize time in the office as well as reuse of materials (e.g., clipboards, pens).

Childhood Immunizations

Ensuring the delivery of newborn and well-child care, including childhood immunization, requires different strategies. Healthcare providers in communities affected by COVID-19 are separating well visits from sick visits. Examples include:

  • Scheduling well visits in the morning and sick visits in the afternoon
  • Separating patients spatially, such as by placing patients with sick visits in different areas of the clinic or another location from patients with well visits.
  • Collaborating with providers in the community to identify separate locations for holding well visits for children.

Vaccine Catch-Up Guidance

The CDC has developed catch-up guidance job aids to assist health care providers in interpreting Table 2 in the child and adolescent immunization schedule.

Adult Immunizations

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing rapidly and is affecting communities across the United States in different ways. Despite changing circumstances, clinicians must continue to provide their patients with access to clinical services in environments that are safe for all. Some strategies used to slow the spread of disease in communities include postponing or cancelling non-urgent elective procedures and using telemedicine instead of face-to-face encounters for routine medical encounters. Delivery of some clinical preventive services, such as immunizations, requires face-to-face encounters. In areas with community transmission of COVID-19, these visits should be postponed except when:

  • An in-person visit must be scheduled for some other purpose and the clinical preventive service can be delivered during that visit with no additional risk; or
  • An individual patient and their clinician believe that there is a compelling need to receive the service based on an assessment that the potential benefit outweighs the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Annual Flu Vaccination

Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons age 6 months and older to decrease morbidity and mortality caused by influenza. Healthcare providers should consult current influenza vaccine recommendations for guidance around the timing of administration and use of specific vaccines. Providers can also get the lastest information regarding VFC/VFAAR on our Flu Hub.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the overall burden of respiratory illnesses is important to protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe illness, the healthcare system, and other critical infrastructure. Thus, healthcare providers should use every opportunity during the influenza vaccination season to administer influenza vaccines to all eligible persons, including:

  • Essential workers: Healthcare personnel, including nursing home, long-term care facility, and pharmacy staff, and other critical infrastructure workforce
  • Persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19: Including adults age 65 years and older, residents in a nursing home or long-term care facility, persons of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions. Severe illness from COVID-19 has been observed to disproportionately affect members of certain racial/ethnic minority groups
  • Persons at high risk for influenza complications: Including infants and young children, children with neurologic conditions, pregnant women, adults age 65 years and older, and other persons with certain underlying medical conditions

Have Questions? Contact Us

Have a problem or concern? Need help ordering or managing vaccine? The Philadelphia Immunization Program is here to help!

If you have questions regarding any of the following issues, contact the Philadelphia Immunization Program member listed. Don’t see the right person to contact? Visit our staff page or contact vaccines@phila.gov for assistance.


Vaccine Orders
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Reconciliations
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Storage & Handling
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Reporting to the IIS
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Accessing PhilaVax
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Enrollment Information
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Guidance & Resources