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  • COVID-19 Vaccine eligibility expands to adult at-home LTC recipients

    Mar 15, 2021 | Read More News
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    Dear Long Term Care Providers and Community Partners,

    Re: Expanded vaccine eligibility for people receiving long term care in the home living with disabilities and high risk medical conditions

    As we continue to accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations in Pima County, the Pima County Health Department has expanded eligibility for vaccination to people living with disabilities and high risk medical conditions who are receiving long term care services in the home.

    In February 2021, the PCHD received correspondence from the Arizona Development Disability Network advocating for the need to elevate vaccine eligibility for people living with disabilities and high risk medical conditions who receive long term care services in the home. The existing guidance included adults living in long term care facilities such as Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities and licensed residential settings. Evidence was presented that people receiving long term care services in the home face higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and mortality. The PCHD is committed to addressing disparities to ensure vulnerable people and those disproportionately impacted are prioritized for vaccination.

    The PCHD Ethics Committee reviewed the current guidance under the Tentative Vaccination Guidance for priority group 1A.3 and advised the Director to include those receiving long-term care services at home. This was subsequently approved. The revised 1A.3 guidance now includes:

    Adults 18 years and over, living with disabilities (physical, intellectual/developmental, mental health and /or sensory) and/or high risk medical conditions who are receiving long term care service at home will now be eligible for vaccination.

    Under the new guidance, long term care services in the home include attendant care, personal care or hospice services through an in home care provider or home health agency.

    The necessary changes have been made to the relevant County registration systems, so that eligible people can now register for vaccination. Vaccination site coordinators have been notified of the expanded eligibility criteria. However, the state POD at University of Arizona determines eligibility based on age. Eligible individuals will not be asked to prove their disability or high risk medical condition status. However, in an effort to ensure that this only applies to those for whom it is intended, individuals may be asked to verify that they receive long term care services in the home at the time of vaccination. This may take a variety of forms such as provider’s/doctor’s letter, home care or home health agency, documentation from ALTCS, SSI/SSDI, DDD or their long term care insurance provider.

    There are a number of support options in place to improve access to vaccination for vulnerable people:
    • The PCHD established a call center to assist people directly with registration and scheduling vaccinations. A general helpline number, 520-222-0119, is available for people to receive assistance with registration. Spanish-speaking staff and phone interpreters are available.
    • People without access to technology or email who call the helpline are identified scheduled directly at select PODs. Transportation to appointments can also arranged as needed.
    • We recognize that some individuals in this priority group may require an at-home vaccination, if they are unable to leave the home, and have created an option for people to register for this. Beginning March 4 2021, people needing at-home vaccinations, or their representative, are able to register through the PCHD’s main registration system.
    • PCHD also is expanding mobile vaccination clinics in rural, semi-rural and high-risk communities. Eligible residents can be vaccinated at a community based pop-up drive through or walk-up clinic. Transportation support is also available for people needing assistance accessing these clinics.
    The PCHD is seeking your help to get the word out to people now eligible for vaccination under this new priority group. We would appreciate if you could:
    • Share this information with your clients, members and community networks
    • Refer individuals to the resources available outlined above
    • Offer support to individuals to get registered, if appropriate.
    Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions or issues you wish to discuss.

    Thank you for your support in helping us to meet the goal of ensuring everyone in Pima County who wants a vaccine, gets one.

    Theresa  MD, MS
    Pima County Health Department Director