Thank you to all the providers who joined our conference calls last month. Please review this summary of the strategies and resources we discussed to address the decrease in vaccination that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vaccinating during the pandemic
A number of practices shared what they are doing to safely offer vaccines during this time that we thought would be helpful for other practices. These measures include:
- Communicating cleaning and other preventative measures with parents and guardians when scheduling visits.
- Having all family members wear a mask to the visit.
- Limiting the number of persons who accompany a patient for the visit.
- Bringing patients straight to the exam room, avoiding any time in the waiting room. Some practices asked families to wait outside the office and called parents and guardians when they were ready to see the patient.
- Scheduling vaccine appointments in blocks in the morning, separate from sick and other visits.
- Using separate entrances for well and sick visits.
- Offering vaccines in spaces that better lend themselves to social distancing. Examples of measures that practices implemented include offering vaccination curbside in the parent’s vehicle and using other rooms in the clinic such as conference rooms for vaccination that are separate from the exam rooms.
Several new resources have been developed in response to the feedback that we got from providers.
- Take a few minutes to review the new Safer at Home website, a hub of re-opening guidelines and resources for Philadelphia. It includes the Guidelines for Outpatient Health Care Facilities guide, a plain language summary of rules for reopening in the Yellow Phase.
- Offering PhilaVax Reminder Recall webinars to train vaccine coordinators and office managers on how to use this tool to identify patients who are due for a vaccination. The reminder recall has the functionality to aid with mailings and automatic dialing programs. The first training is scheduled for Wednesday, June 17 at 10 am. Register for the training here.
Based on the feedback that we received during our conference calls, we are working on several resources to support immunization services in your clinics. These include:
- Resources for reaching out to parents, guardians, and patients to encourage them to come in for well visits and vaccination.
- Guidance on implementing vaccination clinics that also allows for COVID social distancing measures. If your practice is considering a vaccination clinic, it is important to start thinking about the logistics and space now.
Keep an eye out for emails with these resources and they will also be posted on our website, vax.phila.gov. The Immunization Program looks forward to our continued partnership during this challenging time. See below for some steps you can take to keep your vaccine inventory stocked.
Ordering VFC vaccine
Please stay in communication with our program as changes that impact vaccination are implemented. Continue to do the following:
- Let us know your plan for visits over the coming weeks when you place your order so that we can better match your current vaccine supply with projected usage.
- Work with your staff who access vaccines to ensure that the vaccine coordinator is notified when you are running low on any vaccines in between orders.
- Reach out to our program about vaccine needs as they arise. We can help ensure that you get the vaccines you need in a timely manner.
Our response to requests for vaccine is situation dependent. We consider many factors whenever a site requests vaccines. Do not hesitate to reach out because a previous request was denied.
Philadelphia COVID resources
Pediatric patients (0 – 18 yo) can be referred to CHOP for testing if you cannot offer testing at your practice. To refer a patient, your office should call Joani Schmeling at 215-685-6490 Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm.
- Have the following info available when you call: Patient name, Date of birth, Address, Parent / Guardian Contact information, Symptom and exposure information.
The city has several resources available to help providers during the pandemic.
- The Health Information Portal: Guidance, signage, statistics, PPE request form.
- The City Website: COVID guidance and signage in several languages, testing sites finder, outpatient health care facilities guide
- PhilaVax: Vaccination guidance