COVID-19 Vaccine Updates and Resources
In an effort to ensure all Texans have the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. John Hellerstedt, Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner, recently issued a statement in order to increase access to vaccinations. The statement mentioned Texas’ continued success in reaching COVID-19 vaccination milestones as a direct result of the hard work of providers over the last six months. Because hospitals, emergency departments and urgent care facilities play an important role as trusted sources of health care, DSHS encourages providers to leverage these resources by:
- Considering offering COVID-19 vaccination to all patients upon discharge from a hospital or facility.
- Providers should use their clinical judgement on patient eligibility when administering COVID-19 vaccination, and any COVID-19 vaccine can be used.
- For a vaccine that requires two doses, patients could receive their second dose at the appropriate time from another provider in the community.
- Following best practices to use every dose possible to vaccinate every eligible person when they are ready to be vaccinated, even if this means puncturing a multi-dose vial to administer the vaccine without having enough people available to receive each dose.
Mobile Vaccine Teams for Medicaid Members who are Homebound
Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notice with state and national best practices for administering vaccines to Medicaid members, including those who are homebound and/or have limited options for receiving vaccinations in the community. The State of Texas has begun efforts for in-home vaccine administration through the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Military Department (TMD) to connect organizations, businesses and homebound individuals through the utilization of mobile vaccine teams.
For members with limited ability to leave their residence, home administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is critical to ensuring these individuals are afforded protection against COVID-19. These efforts are also important for helping to reduce the spread of the virus and end the COVID-19 pandemic. To schedule a visit with a state mobile vaccine team to vaccinate employees, visitors or members, businesses or civic organizations can call 1-844-90-TEXAS, option 3. Homebound Texans are also encouraged to call the hotline and select option 1 to request a state mobile vaccination team to visit their home.
With the signing of House Bill 797, 87th Legislature, Regular Session, 2021 on May 18, HHS is preparing to make home-health providers a payable provider type for the COVID-19 vaccine administration procedure codes. Once completed, this will allow home-health providers to administer vaccines to members who already have existing home-health services, and for whom the prescribing provider has updated the care plan to include an order for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccinations for Persons with Disabilities
Another recently launched federal initiative is the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL), to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines for individuals with disabilities. For additional information, please see HHS Launches Hotline to Improve Access to COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Disabilities.
Additional vaccination information can be found on the following webpages:
- Against the Clock (Special Report from The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Vaccinating Homebound Persons With COVID-19 Vaccine
- National Academy for State Health Policy
- Superior HealthPlan’s Coronavirus Updates webpage
- Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) COVID-19 Vaccine Information
- Trust for America's Health: Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccines for Older Adults and People with Disabilities Who are Homebound