CDC encourages hospitals, urgent care centers to help vaccinate vulnerable populations

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June 17, 2021

by A.J. Plunkett (aplunkett@decisionhealth.com)

Include COVID-19 vaccination status as part of your emergency room triage and medical history and educate clinicians on how to address vaccine hesitancy.

The CDC is encouraging hospitals and urgent care centers to step up outreach to vulnerable patient populations by offering COVID-19 vaccinations to patients at discharge from emergency departments (EDs).

The agency is also asking jurisdictions to allocate portions of their vaccine supplies to hospitals and urgent care centers to carry out the effort. However, jurisdictions will not be provided extra vaccine doses, according to a CDC fact sheet.

In its weekly summary, the CDC noted that “EDs serve as the primary health care access point for up to a fifth of the U.S. population and UCs account for up to 29% of all primary care visits. These settings are therefore important access points for people who have not yet been vaccinated.”

The call comes on the heels of news that COVID-19 cases are no longer declining across the United States as severe variants of the novel coronavirus begin to take hold.

The CDC told providers “we are asking you to promote this effort as an important way to protect the communities you serve and to encourage them to participate in vaccinating patients upon discharge if they are not already doing so. Please also help to spread the word that facilities interested in becoming a COVID-19 vaccine provider should reach out to the health department or visit How to Enroll as a COVID-19 Vaccination Provider | CDC for more information.”

After establishing efforts to increase vaccinations upon discharge from EDs, the CDC is encouraging hospitals to “expand COVID-19 vaccination efforts at discharge to all hospital departments,” according to the fact sheet, which the American Hospital Association (AHA) says it helped to develop.

The AHA noted in a news update that the CDC’s latest effort is “is meant to reach unvaccinated individuals at their primary point of health care. CDC stressed that there is no special allocation channel for this program; jurisdictions would use already-received inventory.”

“Providers are encouraged to enroll to become COVID-19 vaccinators, which will enable them to legally store, handle and administer the vaccines to patients,” noted the AHA.

The fact sheet includes a list of best practices for facilities, including assessing vaccination status at triage and as part of the medical history, and addressing vaccine hesitancy.

The fact sheet notes that EDs and urgent care centers can bill a patient’s insurance for administration of the COVID-19 vaccine but as a separate service from the reason for the patient’s visit. “ Patients cannot be charged directly for the vaccine administration fee if they do not have health insurance and cannot be denied vaccination because of a lack of insurance,” according to the fact sheet.

 






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