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The CDC's New Vaccine Guidance Since COVID-19

  • by Kevin Driggers
  • Sep 14, 2020, 13:20 PM

As of August 2020, the world is still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, life goes on. Many patients will need access to their usual vaccines, regardless of the need for isolation or social distancing. School-aged children are at particular risk if they miss required vaccine doses during these unusual times.

  • Other patients — particularly at-risk seniors and others with existing medical conditions — may start seeking additional vaccines this year.

  • This might be due to doctor's orders, increased government focus, or the patient's increased awareness since COVID-19.

  • Regardless, pharmacies and healthcare professionals could hope for a bump in vaccine requests for TDAP and influenza.

  • Forward-thinking immunization providers will do well to stock up vaccine inventory, verify they have enough vaccine storage, and review new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding vaccines in 2020. 

Here, we'll highlight the CDC's new guidelines for immunization providers. As always, if you need to know more about medical and laboratory-grade refrigerators or freezers for your hospital, laboratory or practice, contact us today

The CDC's Standard Protocols and New Guidelines for Vaccine Providers 

Some vaccination protocols have remained static since the pandemic. As a healthcare professional, you already understand the value of personal protective equipment (PPE) and practice proper handwashing between patients. We won't bore you with that information again. We will remind you of standard vaccine protocols that are still in place, however.

Some Vaccination Protocols Haven't Changed.

The CDC recommends that vaccine providers:

Remember, you don't need to cancel an appointment for the sake of missing vaccination records, but it's best for everyone if vaccines aren't over-administered. So be sure to educate the patient about every vaccine they need and provide them with documentation afterward. 

All this sounds fairly straightforward. So what has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?

Key Considerations on Vaccine Administration Since the COVID-19 Pandemic

For Pediatric Immunizations

Social distancing measures are working well to slow the spread of the Novel Coronavirus. Still, they resulted in far fewer pediatric outpatient visits, and far fewer standard child-wellness. The CDC says fewer vaccine doses were administered during the early COVID-19 pandemic, leaving some children at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. Entire communities could find themselves at a higher risk of a dangerous outbreak, should vaccinations fall short. 

  • A community outbreak of respiratory illness could overwhelm overburdened hospitals.

That's why the CDC encourages pediatricians to communicate with families, and encourage them to keep children up to date with vaccinations, especially with influenza vaccinations for the 2020-2021 "flu season." 

Vaccinations & Influenza Risk During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the "flu season" looms, influenza vaccinations play a critical role in reducing the number of respiratory illnesses that lead to hospitalization. Influenza vaccines are more important than ever, particularly for seniors and other at-risk individuals. By reducing the number of flu-related admissions, providers can mitigate the resulting burdens on the healthcare system during the pandemic.

  • Communicating the importance of vaccination to parents (of children) and caregivers (of the elderly) can help provide them with the reassurance they need — that vaccines are safe, effective and necessary — even during the pandemic.

Social distancing is still essential, but both patients and providers have more access to technology and communication tools than ever before. Beyond a postcard or phone call, connect with parents using email or social media to underscore the need for vaccines.

Just remember, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, providers should:

  • Limit the number of patients in the lobby, and reduce crowding whenever possible.

  • Try to schedule well patient visits and sick patient visits at different hours of the day.

  • Take advantage of telehealth / telemedicine technology whenever possible, to reduce the traffic.

Thus far, we've covered the importance of continuance of standard vaccination schedule, and basic best practices. Everything we've discussed relates to keeping your patients healthy for their own sake and the surrounding community. Let's shift gears and talk about the CDC's recommendations for providers who administer vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Protect Your Practice: Guidelines for Save Delivery of Vaccines During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The CDC says, "The potential for asymptomatic transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 underscores the importance of applying infection prevention practices [in all encounters] including physical distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene, surface decontamination, and source control while in a healthcare facility."

To ensure the safe delivery of care during vaccination visits, providers must:

  • Minimize chances for exposures. In other words:

    • Monitor points of entry to the facility.

    • Screen patients for symptoms of COVID-19 and contact with persons with possible COVID-19 before and upon arrival at the facility.

    • Isolate potentially symptomatic patients immediately.

    • Install physical barriers, like clear plastic sneeze guards, to limit physical contact with patients.

    • Implement policies for the use of a face-covering in both patients and staff.

    • And ensure everyone understands the value of cough etiquette and hand hygiene.

To safely administer intranasal or oral vaccines, providers should:

  • Wear gloves because of the increased risks of contact with a patient's mucous membranes and body fluids.

  • Gloves should be changed between patients and hand hygiene practiced. 

  • Since the administration of these vaccines is not an aerosol-generating procedure, N95 or higher-level respirators are not needed.

For intramuscular or subcutaneous vaccines, dispose of gloves and wash hands between patients. Again, N95 or higher-level respirators aren't recommended.

In Summary

Ultimately, we know the reduced vaccine administration numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic have left unvaccinated or under-vaccinated patients susceptible to preventable illnesses.

As we move forward through these unusual times, quality communication between patients and providers and the application of stringent social distancing and hygiene protocols at your practice will make a huge impact on your community's health. And therefore, the ability of your hospitals to handle the pandemic as needs arise. 

Our Role

At American BioTech Supply, our goal is to provide the world's finest medical refrigerators, freezers and cryogenic equipment. To assist with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we've expanded our In-Stock program and reduced Lead Times for our critical product portfolio. We know that Medical and Laboratory Grade Cold Storage Equipment is essential to providing proper patient care, diagnostic testing, vaccine storage and development, all key factors in the fight against COVID-19. 

 

Related Reading & Resources:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: COVID-19 Facts for Obstetricians-Gynecologists, Obstetrics

CDC: Non-COVID-19 Clinical Care Framework

CDC: Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit

 

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