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ODP Health Alert

The Office of Developmental Programs has issued a Health Alert to bring awareness of recent information regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Throughout the pandemic, it has been evident that individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism are at increased risk for infection and more severe outcomes from COVID-19. Vaccination for the virus that causes COVID-19 is a vital tool in protecting lives and bringing an end to a pandemic that so far has taken over 633,000 American lives.

An additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to help promote continuity immunity from infection, called a “booster dose,” has not yet been recommended by the CDC or FDA. Many news sources have reported that this recommendation will be coming soon. Some news sources have reported the date of September 20, 2021 as the date that booster doses will be available. ODP will continue to share information as it becomes known.

When booster shots are available, you can reach out to the provider who gave your initial vaccine doses as a possible source for the booster shot. Given the anticipated need in the near future for a high volume of vaccinations, Intermediate Care Facility and residential providers who do not have an identified vaccination provider and/or a plan for vaccinating their residents should secure a relationship with a vaccine provider(s) or establish a plan.

Providers that need assistance should contact Doug Trahey. More information on finding vaccine providers in PA is available at PA Unites Against COVID.

November 15 is Pressure Injury Prevention Day. ODP Medical Director Dr. Gregory Cherpes, MD released a Health Alert with important information for those who provide care to individuals at risk of developing pressure injuries.

The skin is the largest organ of the body. Skin protects the body by creating a barrier to the environment, regulates the body’s temperature, supports peripheral circulation, and helps maintain fluid balance. Skin also is a reservoir for the formation of Vitamin D. The nerves in the skin provide sensations that detect changes in the environment such as heat, cold, touch, and pain. The skin is made of two layers, the epidermis and dermis, which cover the underlying tissues, muscles, and bones. “Skin integrity” refers to the intact, unbroken nature of healthy skin. Open wounds to the skin, such as those that occur with pressure injuries, make an individual more vulnerable to infection, sickness, and death.

This document provides information defining pressure injuries, why prevention is important, who is at risk of developing pressure injuries, signs and stages, treatment, and prevention of these injuries.

Due to the serious nature of pressure injuries, the pain associated with these injuries, and the additional conditions that may result from pressure injuries, prevention and immediate action at the first sign of pressure injuries are of utmost importance. In addition to skin, muscle, and bone loss, bacteria entering the sore can cause infection. In some cases, infection in the tissue can lead to bone infection, also called osteomyelitis. Infections can worsen and result in sepsis (when infection enters the blood), which can lead to shock and even death.

IMPORTANT: Notify the health care practitioner (HCP) if there are concerns for a pressure wound. Because pressure injuries can have many different appearances, the HCP should be alerted to any skin changes that are noted, particularly in areas at risk for pressure injury. Notify the HCP at the first sign of redness that does not resolve within 15 minutes after relieving the pressure.