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COVID-19 Vaccination Guidance

The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) has released guidance information confirming that OMHSAS programs are indeed in Phase 1A of Pennsylvania’s Interim Vaccination Plan for providers who are seeking to obtain vaccinations for their programs. While this particular response focuses on the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program as a pathway to vaccinations, we are recommending that providers seek all available options that include federally-qualified health centers (FQHC’s), hospital and regional health systems, and county boards of health.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has made available a map of vaccine providers to assist your efforts. Please contact your RCPA policy director for any assistance you may need in your efforts. RCPA will continue to update its members on any changes in the plan.

OMHSAS Guidance

In order to facilitate vaccine distribution across Pennsylvania, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed an order on December 30, 2020 directing that at least ten percent of each vaccine shipment to hospitals, health systems, federally-qualified health centers, and pharmacies (collectively called “vaccine providers”) be designated for non-hospital affiliated health-care personnel who would otherwise be included in Phase 1A of Pennsylvania’s Interim Vaccination Plan, which was updated on Friday, January 8, 2021.

Health-care personnel as defined in Phase 1A include:

  • Physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, emergency medical service personnel, direct support professionals (in-home and community-based services and adult day facilities), staff of long-term care facilities that have residents prioritized in 1A, staff in residential care providers serving children, pharmacists, clinical personnel in school settings or correctional facilities, and contractual staff working in but not employed by the health-care facility. People who are not involved in patient care but who could be exposed to COVID-19 through careers in dietary services, environmental services, laundry services, security, maintenance, facilities management, and other administrative services as defined in the Interim Vaccination Plan are also included.

Long-term care facility staff are considered health-care personnel above, and long-term care facility residents are also in Phase 1A. Long-term care facilities as defined in Phase 1A include:

  • Skilled nursing facilities, personal care homes, assisted living facilities, private intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities, community group homes, residential treatment facilities for adults, long-term structured residences, state veterans homes, state centers, private psychiatric hospitals, and state hospitals.

The Department of Health recently released a map of vaccine providers who can administer a COVID-19 vaccine to anyone covered by Phase 1A. Anyone covered under Phase 1A who has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine can contact any of these providers to check availability and schedule their vaccination, but we encourage providers to contact sites and coordinate for their employees who are eligible. Employees should be prepared to show proof of employment. This map is being updated regularly, so please keep checking for new locations with vaccine supply and available appointments.

Long-term care facility staff and residents may be eligible for the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities. The Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program is currently prioritizing skilled nursing facilities at this time. If your facility is enrolled in the program, CVS and Walgreens may have already reached out to schedule a vaccination date with you. However, if your facility has not already scheduled a vaccination date with CVS or Walgreens, you are encouraged to contact your local vaccine provider. The Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Health are also working together on additional solutions to expedite vaccine distribution to DHS-licensed facilities. Please keep track of who in your facility has already received a vaccine.

As vaccine supply is limited, it may take some time to find a vaccination provider and appointment. Thank you for your patience through this process, and most importantly, thank you for being united in our collective fight against COVID-19.