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COVID-19 Vaccination Program Updates

Community , Family Care , Regulatory ,

COVID-19 Vaccination Program Updates

Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program COVID-19 Vaccination Update

As the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force continues to allocate and distribute vaccine throughout the state, there are reports that some residents in long-term care programs may be encountering barriers to accessing their second dose of vaccine. This information is to provide guidance on how to help residents in securing a second dose. This also provides notification of the completion of the Pharmacy Partnership Program and guidance on how to prepare moving forward.

Second Doses

It is important for residents and staff to receive their second dose of the current vaccine to ensure full protection. The following are common reasons as to why residents are not receiving their second dose and possible solutions to ensure all residents are being fully vaccinated.

  • Resident was discharged: If a member of the public received their first dose at a long-term care facility when they were a resident, that facility is expected to provide the individual their second dose. It is recommended that all discharge planning incorporate a vaccination plan in the event the resident is to be vaccinated around the time of discharge. This plan should include the date and time of the initial dose, the date and time of the second dose, and the transportation plan to return to the facility to receive that dose.
  • Resident was discharged and does not have transportation: If the individual does not have transportation to return to the facility and they are enrolled in Medicaid or Badger Care plus, they are eligible for same-day appointment rides. Please see the DHS Non-Medical Transportation webpage. Facilities are encouraged to work with their community to create transportation opportunities, such as using volunteers for rides.
  • Resident felt ill after first dose: Individuals may feel ill after the first dose and be hesitant to receive the second dose. We encourage facilities to educate these residents that side effects are an indicator that the vaccine is working and their body is building an immune response. You can work with your facility's medical director or physician to provide over-the-counter medications to help with these symptoms if necessary.
  • Scheduling conflict: It is important to prepare for unexpected challenges, such as a scheduling conflict due to limited vaccine supply, clinic staffing limitations, or other unexpected limitations. It is recommended that several options be prepared in advance to create opportunities for the residents to complete the second dose within the required timeframes of the first dose, according to the vaccine type and CDC recommendations.

It is important to maintain transparent communication with your staff and residents regarding your facility’s vaccination plan and the importance of receiving the second dose of vaccine. In the event a resident does miss their scheduled second dose, communicate the reason for that missed dose and the plan to get the resident fully vaccinated. Ensure the resident is in agreement with that plan. While on-time vaccination is the goal, according to CDC, individuals may still receive their second dose up to 42 days after the first dose and experience the full benefit of protection from the series.

Preparing for Your Final Clinics

The pharmacy partners will visit facilities for a total of three clinics with the exception of some smaller facilities where only two clinics may be necessary to vaccinate all residents and staff. Due to this schedule, it is important to ensure your vaccination plan accounts for all residents to be vaccinated within these timelines. In the event that a resident is not fully vaccinated by the third clinic, DHS still encourages the facility to allow the resident to receive their first dose. The facility should work with their LTHD and local vaccinators to secure second doses or vaccination options for residents that require a second dose after the final scheduled clinic.

Planning for Vaccinations after the Pharmacy Partnership Program Ends

DHS recognizes that facilities will continue to have a need for ongoing COVID-19 vaccinations for their staff and residents after the Pharmacy Partnership Program ends. To implement a long-term vaccination program, facilities have two choices 1) they are encouraged to work with their pharmacy and enroll as a COVID-19 vaccinator, or 2) partner with an enrolled vaccinator in their area.

The following are examples of plans that Wisconsin facilities are making to vaccinate residents after the conclusion of the program:

  • The facility’s consultant pharmacist schedules monthly vaccine clinics at the facility for staff and residents who need vaccination. Vaccine is brought from the pharmacy to the facility by the consultant pharmacist.
  • A long-term care pharmacy partner sends staff to the facility to vaccinate staff and residents on a schedule that meets the facility’s needs.
  • The facility creates a partnership with a local health care system to provide vaccinations when the residents access that system for primary care visits.
  • The facility’s pharmacy enrolls as a vaccinator. The facility and pharmacy coordinate how to vaccinate residents and staff on an ongoing basis.

This information is intended to be used as guidance and suggestions to support the vaccination of long-term care residents and staff. DHS recommends each facility create a long-term COVID-19 vaccination plan that supports the residents, staff, and unique needs of the facility. Facilities are welcome to contact DHSCOVIDVaccinator@wi.gov with any questions.