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AHA Urges HHS to Expedite COVID Vaccine Administration

January 07, 2021

As the anniversary of the first United States COVID-19 case approaches, the American Hospital Association (AHA) wrote to US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging the agency to become more transparent about the vaccine administration plans, as well as offer more support to health systems.

“In the first few weeks of administering vaccines, hospitals have seen a number of barriers to smooth and effective vaccinations,” wrote Richard J Pollack, president and chief executive officer, American Hospital Association, to Secretary Azar. “We raise these to your attention so that you and your team can begin to eliminate the barriers and expedite vaccination.”

The letter comes from the more than 270,000 affiliated physicians, 2 million nurses and other caregivers, as well as the 43,000 health care leaders from nearly 5000 hospitals, health systems and health care organizations in the US who are currently facing mounting frustrations and issues with vaccine administration, on top of the surge of COVID-19 cases.

According to the letter, and data from Anthony S Fauci, MD, NIAID Director, to reach the desired level of herd immunity desired—at least 75% vaccinated of the 328 million people in America—1.8 million individuals would need to receive the vaccine each day between January 15 and May 31, including weekends and holidays.

AHA cites 64 disparate microplans developed by states as a concern and questions whether HHS has vetted or coordinated these efforts to ensure goals are met.

“Hospitals are committed to be a central part of the vaccination effort, but hospitals alone cannot do it…” the letter continued.

Mr Pollack and AHA suggest that the rollout of the vaccine could be successful if the model was similar to what was used for the distribution of remdesivir earlier this year for which frequent key leader and stakeholder calls were held, offering time for questions, clarification, and troubleshooting.

“We urge you to establish a process within HHS with the ability to be able to coordinate the national efforts among all of the states and jurisdictions and the many stakeholders; answer all of the questions expeditiously; establish and maintain effective communication among all involved; and identify and resolve barriers to the rapid deployment of millions of doses of vaccines,” urged AHA and Mr Pollock.

A key factor in ensuring distribution and administration success is communication and comparison of plans, said AHA. The letter continues to say that hospitals and systems need to know if what is being done is working or if another system has made improvements.

“Effective vaccines, if administered properly to enough Americans, can tame this awful virus and halt the devastating impact it has had on the country,” wrote Mr Pollack. “But, hope alone will not be the remedy.”

—Edan Stanley

American Hospital Association. Leadership Actions Needed to Expedite the Administration of COVID-19 Vaccines. Published January 7, 2020.

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