As reported in previous alerts, all health care workers who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 – including both clinical and nonclinical outpatient medical office staff with patient-facing responsibilities – are included in the CDC’s prioritization group 1A. Vaccinations are currently ongoing for group 1A.
Within group 1A, there are three prioritization phases:
- Phase 1 includes health care workers in acute care settings
- Phase 2 includes health care workers in primary care settings
- Phase 3 includes health care workers in specialty care settings
Many physicians are already being vaccinated as part of Phase 1 at their affiliated hospitals, but we understand that unaffiliated physicians and medical office staff in Phases 2 and 3 have been unable to obtain vaccinations. Each county health department is responsible for providing a process for physicians and office staff to get vaccinated. Both counties are finalizing plans for Phases 2 and 3 and have provided the following updates.
Alameda County Update
Alameda County is working with local hospitals to provide vaccinations to PCPs and specialists and their office staff, including practices that are not affiliated with a hospital. The County is in the process of compiling information about how the process will work and will send out a Health Alert (which the ACCMA will forward to all members) with instructions for how to obtain vaccinations for your practice from local hospitals. Below are the current approximate timeframes provided by the County for moving to phases 2 and 3, although this is subject to change based on federal and state guidance and vaccine availability.
- 1/25/21: Phase 2 (Primary Care Providers and office staff)
- 2/4/21: Phase 3 (Specialists and office staff)
Future updates from the County will be forthcoming with instructions and appointment sign-up links.
Contra Costa County Update
Contra Costa County announced yesterday that primary care and specialty practices can arrange to be vaccinated at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and John Muir; you do not have to have any affiliation with CCRMC or John Muir to utilize these services. This is open to physicians and office staff in both primary care and specialty clinics. More information – including links and instructions for arranging a vaccination appointment at CCRMC or John Muir – can be found here: https://www.coronavirus.cchealth.org/providers-and-caregivers
CDC Prioritization Guidance
The county health departments are implementing vaccination plans in accordance with the CDC and CDPH prioritization guidance. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) updated its Interim Recommendation for Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine on December 22, 2020. The prioritizations are as follows:
- Phase 1A (outlined in detail above): health care personnel, long-term care facility residents
- Phase 1B: persons aged ≥75 years, persons aged ≥65 years with high-risk medical conditions, and non–health care frontline essential workers
- Phase 1C: persons aged 65–74 years, persons aged 16–64 years with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in Phase 1b
- Phase 2: All other persons aged ≥16 years
Vaccination planning for subsequent phases is occurring while vaccines are being deployed. Accordingly, there is currently very little information about how groups 1B and beyond will be implemented. The current focus is deploying to group 1A phase 1, and planning is being finalized for group 1a phases 2 and 3. We expect that the state and federal governments will provide additional guidance to the counties on implementation of subsequent groups. The counties estimate that they will conclude vaccinating group 1a in late January/early February. We expect further clarity on the process for vaccinating subsequent groups in the coming weeks and we will continue to provide updates as more information is shared.
For more information about prioritization guidance, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/vaccines/recommendations-process.html
The following slides from the December 20th ACIP meeting provides information about the rationale and process by which the CDC arrived at this prioritization framework: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/downloads/slides-2020-12/slides-12-20/02-COVIDDooling.pdf
Information about Registering to Administer the Vaccine
All healthcare providers who will be administering COVID-19 vaccines must be enrolled in the COVIDreadi program. Practices that would like to eventually administer vaccinations to their patients as more vaccine becomes available are encouraged to review the following information and be prepared to enroll:
- General instructions for enrollment can be found here: https://eziz.org/assets/other/IMM1295.pdf
- A step-by-step enrollment guide can be found here: https://eziz.org/assets/other/IMM-1303.pdf
When the vaccine supply increases, it will likely become available for private practices, but at this moment there is no timeline for when that will happen. The COVID vaccine is also expected to be widely available in commercial chain pharmacies.
- Contra Costa County COVID-19 Vaccination Webpage: https://www.coronavirus.cchealth.org/vaccine
- Alameda County COVID-19 Vaccination Info: https://covid-19.acgov.org/vaccines
- CMA Vaccination Resource Center: https://www.cmadocs.org/covid-19/vaccine
- CMA Vaccination FAQ Document (including info on COVIDreadi): https://www.cmadocs.org/Portals/CMA/files/public/CMA%20COVID-19%20Vaccine%20FAQ.pdf
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ACCMA at 510-654-5383 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that the ACCMA offices are closed on December 31st and January 1st for the New Year holiday. Our offices will reopen on Monday, January 4th.