HHS Statement on Plan for COVID-19 Booster Shots
Joint Statement from HHS Public Health and Medical Experts on COVID-19 Booster Shots
Today, public health and medical experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the following statement on the Administration’s plan for COVID-19 booster shots for the American people.
“The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. Recognizing that many vaccines are associated with a reduction in protection over time, and acknowledging that additional vaccine doses could be needed to provide long-lasting protection, we have been analyzing the scientific data closely from the United States and around the world to understand how long this protection will last and how we might maximize this protection. The available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination, and in association with the dominance of the Delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout. For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.
“We have developed a plan to begin offering these booster shots this fall subject to FDA conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issuing booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence. We are prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose. At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster. We would also begin efforts to deliver booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that COVID-19 poses to them.
“We also anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the U.S. until March 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the next few weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well.
“Our top priority remains staying ahead of the virus and protecting the American people from COVID-19 with safe, effective, and long-lasting vaccines especially in the context of a constantly changing virus and epidemiologic landscape. We will continue to follow the science on a daily basis, and we are prepared to modify this plan should new data emerge that requires it.
“We also want to emphasize the ongoing urgency of vaccinating the unvaccinated in the U.S. and around the world. Nearly all the cases of severe disease, hospitalization, and death continue to occur among those not yet vaccinated at all. We will continue to ramp up efforts to increase vaccinations here at home and to ensure people have accurate information about vaccines from trusted sources. We will also continue to expand our efforts to increase the supply of vaccines for other countries, building further on the more than 600 million doses we have already committed to donate globally.”
The statement is attributable to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dr. Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General; Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health; Dr. David Kessler, Chief Science Officer for the COVID-19 Response; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
NYS Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to Convene NYS Clinical Advisory Task Force Re COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters
Statement From New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker:
“Today, the Biden administration’s public health and medical experts announced that a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability, recognizing that many vaccines are associated with a reduction in protection over time, and acknowledging that additional vaccine doses could be needed to provide long lasting protection.
As with previous FDA emergency use authorizations (EUAs) of COVID-19 vaccines and subsequent EUA modifications to date, following the FDA’s independent evaluation and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) official recommendations, I will immediately convene New York State’s Clinical Advisory Task Force. I will seek advice and recommendations from this group of independent experts to inform the State’s COVID-19 vaccination program guidance regarding the administration of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. When this FDA authorization and the ACIP recommendations are available, the Department will complete this process quickly as it has in the past and act swiftly, as we have already been planning for this development.
We are proud that the Department’s study, ‘New COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations Among Adults, by Vaccination Status’ published today by the CDC, which demonstrated the vaccine’s effectiveness against severe outcomes such as hospitalization caused by COVID-19, contributed to our federal health experts’ national guidance today. The vaccines remain the best way for New Yorkers to protect themselves, their families and communities from COVID-19 and its most severe outcomes, and I continue to urge all eligible New Yorkers to get vaccinated as soon as possible. I thank the millions of New Yorkers who have already done so.”
MSSNY Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate for Healthcare Workers
Statement Attributable to:
Joseph R. Sellers, MD, FAAP, FACP
President, Medical Society of the State of New York
“The recent dramatic rise in COVID cases nationally and in parts of New York further demonstrates the need for vaccination as the best single measure to protect individuals and the public from infection. The Medical Society applauds the actions taken today by New York State to require immunization of all healthcare workers. Experts on our Infectious Diseases and Emergency Preparedness Committee, among others, recently made a similar recommendation for physicians and other healthcare workers. MSSNY supports science and stands ready to assist the State in this effort.”
USA Today Network: MSSNY President Dr. Joseph Sellers Says Group Supports Science and is Ready to Assist NYS in Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers
On Monday, outgoing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an order “that all health care workers in the state, including staff at all hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities and other congregate care settings, must get at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27.” In a press release, Cuomo stated the Health Department “will issue special orders intended to prevent a ‘danger to the health of the people’ to compel the health care workers to get vaccinated, with limited exceptions for those with religious objections or medical exemptions.” The Lower Hudson Valley (NY) Journal News (8/16, Robinson) says the Medical Society of the State of New York “applauded the mandate,” with MSSNY President Dr. Joseph Sellers saying the group “supports science and stands ready to assist the state in this effort.”
CMS Announces Plans to Recalculate Some MIPS Scores Due to Technical Issue
The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) has announced it will be updating the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) performance feedback and final scores for some clinicians for performance year 2020 and the associated MIPS payment adjustment information for payment year 2022. The AMA reported that CMS made them aware that certain MIPS participant scores for 2020 were inadvertently miscalculated due to a technical issue. As a result, CMS is recalculating all scores to ensure their accuracy and plans to update both the 2020 scores and related 2022 payment adjustment information in the next few weeks. CMS also advised that the deadline to submit an appeal, or targeted review request, would also be extended. Please see the note below for more information.
CMS advises that physicians can view current MIPS performance feedback, final score, and payment adjustment on the Quality Payment Program website. Physicians can access their 2020 MIPS performance feedback, 2020 final score, and 2022 payment adjustment information by:
- Going to cms.gov/login
- Logging in using your HCQIS Access Roles and Profile (HARP) system credentials; these are the same credentials that allowed you to submit your 2020 MIPS data
If you don’t have a HARP account, please refer to the Register for a HARP Account and Connect to an Organization documents in the QPP Access User Guide and start the process now.
For Shared Savings Program ACOs, please note that beginning August 5, 2021, you will be able to create a HARP account and manage your account in the ACO Management System (ACO-MS). Contact your ACO to find out how you can obtain a HARP account via ACO-MS. If you have any questions, please contact the ACO Information Center at SharedSavingsProgram@cms.hhs.gov or 1-888-734-6433 (Option 1).
CMS further notes that, to learn more about the information in your performance feedback, review the following 2020 MIPS Performance Feedback Resources:
- NEW! 2020 Performance Period Benchmarks (ZIP) – Identifies the performance period benchmark results (as available) for measures without a historical benchmark and provides general information about performance period benchmarks.
- 2020 MIPS Performance Feedback FAQs (PDF) – Highlights what performance feedback is, who receives the feedback, and how to access it on the Quality Payment Program website.
- 2022 MIPS Payment Year Payment Adjustment User Guide (PDF) – Reviews information about the calculation and application of MIPS payment adjustments, and answers frequently asked questions.
Physicians Can Help Unvaccinated Become Confident In COVID-19 Vaccines, MSSNY President Says
In an interview with WNYT-TV Albany, NY (8/12, Zahn), Medical Society of the State of New York President Dr. Joseph Sellers discussed addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, saying, “Our game plan is to help people get confidence in making the right decisions for themselves and their families. And I think the best way to do that is to talk to those who you trust for the rest of your healthcare decisions, and that is your medical team, your physician and other healthcare clinicians who are taking care of you through your other healthcare needs.”
New CPT Codes for Third Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines
The AMA announced that the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) code set is ready for the rollout of third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The CPT Editorial Panel has expedited approval of a new administration code that is unique to a third dose of the current COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna. A new administration code for a third dose of the current COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer was announced by the AMA on July 30.
The two vaccine administration codes are effective for immediate use as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized third doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for certain people with weakened immune systems.
For quick reference, the CPT codes and long descriptors assigned to third dose administration of the current Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are:
0003A – Immunization administration by intramuscular injection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (coronavirus disease [COVID-19]) vaccine, mRNA-LNP, spike protein, preservative free, 30 mcg/0.3 mL dosage, diluent reconstituted; third dose
0013A – Immunization administration by intramuscular injection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (coronavirus disease [COVID-19]) vaccine, mRNA-LNP, spike protein, preservative free, 100 mcg/0.5 mL dosage; third dose
These CPT codes and descriptors are used to report the actual work of administering the vaccine, in addition to all necessary counseling provided to patients or caregivers and updating the electronic record.
Short, medium and long descriptors for all the new vaccine-specific CPT codes can be accessed on the AMA website, along with several other recent modifications to the CPT code set that have helped streamline the public health response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease. To help ensure accurate coding and reporting of COVID-19 vaccines and immunization services, the AMA offers a code finder resource to help identify the appropriate CPT code combination for the type and dose of COVID-19 vaccine provided to each patient.
Questions on CPT coding and content should be directed to the CPT Network.
Date Change: White House Virtual Conversation on Health Systems, Providers, and the Vaccination Effort Has Been Rescheduled for Monday, August 23 at Noon
The White House COVID-19 Response Team invites MSSNY members to a White House Virtual Conversation on Health Systems, Providers, and the COVID-19 Vaccination Effort. The event was postponed and is now scheduled for Monday, August 23 from 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET. The event will focus on the significant progress that has been made in activating providers in the vaccination effort, as well as a number of best practices health systems and providers have committed to in order to further increase vaccine confidence and uptake.
August 16 Updated Guidance for the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Program
Click on the following links from the New York State Department of Health for updated guidance on the COVID-19 vaccination program:
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