Wis. Dept. of Health Services notifies federal program vaccinating long-term care facilities is complete, some residents need second dose

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Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 5:29 PM CST
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(WSAW) - An email notification from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to the Division of Quality Assurance partners and local and tribal health departments stated the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program, which vaccinated long-term care facility workers and residents, has been completed. It also noted some vaccinated in that program have had challenges accessing a second dose.

clarification: The Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued a clarification on Wednesday, the day following its initial announcement that the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program for Long-Term Care had completed. The clarification stated that the program "will continue until each enrolled facility's long-term care site visits are completed. Additionally, as many facilities will soon complete their visits, we are providing guidance for transitioning to other options for providing residents COVID-19 vaccinations."

It stated, “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.”

It listed common reasons for people living at the facilities not to get their second dose being that the resident was discharged before the second dose (with or without access to transportation to return to the facility for vaccination), the person “fell ill after the first dose” and is now hesitant to receive the second one, or that there was a scheduling conflict. The state said if the person received their first dose as a resident, it is expected that the facility provides them their second dose even if they are discharged. It noted that administering the second dose when appropriate should be part of the discharge plan.

For those who are hesitant after their first shot, DHS stated that it is encouraged that staff “educate these residents that side effects are an indicator that the vaccine is working and their body is building an immune response,” and can offer over-the-counter medications to help with symptoms if necessary.

The partnership program would have vaccine providers visit a facility two to three times depending upon the size of the facility to ensure all staff and residents who want the vaccine could get vaccinated. The program was allocated 253,600 doses of vaccine. Stephanie Schauer, Wisconsin’s immunization program director said Tuesday that they found some people getting vaccinated through the program were uncertain about getting vaccinated initially, but then changed their mind to get vaccinated in the second or third visit after gaining confidence from seeing others get the vaccine.

DHS stated the facility should work with the local or tribal health department and local vaccinators to secure second doses for residents who could not get their full vaccination series during the federal program clinics.

For vaccinating new staff and residents after the program is over, facilities are recommended to partner with local vaccinators or to work with their pharmacy and to get signed up as a vaccinator through DHS.

clarification: This article includes slight changes from the initial article to include a clarification about former resident transportation. It also includes a clarification that the state expects that the facility gets former residents who received an initial dose of the vaccine to provide the second dose as well, rather than the facility ensure discharged residents receive a second dose. Finally, it also includes a clarification that facilities can sign up to become vaccinators through DHS.

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