AHA writes letter urging HHS to expedite vaccination process

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The American Hospital Association sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar Jan. 7 urging the federal government to ramp up the COVID-19 vaccination effort and outlined what it believes is needed to move faster. 

In the letter, Richard Pollack, AHA president and CEO, urged HHS do the following to help speed up the country's vaccination effort: 

1. Share goals and expectations, and be transparent about what must be done to achieve the goals. HHS has charged each of the 64 states and jurisdictions with developing their own vaccination "microplans," though it's unclear whether they will be able to achieve the level of vaccination needed for herd immunity in the U.S. by the summer. HHS should assess these plans and work with jurisdictions to ensure goals are kept on track and modify if needed. 

2. Provide ongoing support. "To accomplish our vaccination goal will require consistent and effective communication among stakeholders," Mr. Pollack wrote, adding that routine calls between federal leaders and key stakeholders are needed to resolve any questions or issues. HHS did so successfully during the initial distribution of remdesivir, and a similar strategy is now warranted. 

3. Track vaccination and share the data against expectations. While HHS is providing daily vaccination data, it would be more useful if hospitals and healthcare systems were also provided with how the data compares to a state or jurisdiction's goal. "Without this comparison, it is impossible to know whether sufficient progress is being made," the letter reads. "We all need to know this to know if our efforts are sufficient or need to be improved." 

4. Communication and coordination is needed to simplify a complicated task. "Substantial variation" exists across the 64 microplans, leading to issues where hospitals received far less or more than they needed to vaccinate Priority 1 individuals. Therefore, national level coordination is needed to eliminate confusion and streamline the process, according to AHA. 

5. Provide a process for quick resolution of questions that arise. Throughout the first few weeks of the vaccination rollout, many issues arose that were not addressed within the microplans. "Hospitals and all of the other stakeholders need a clear understanding of both how to communicate with HHS when critical issues arise and how decisions will be made that will impact the work we are doing to administer vaccines," Mr. Pollack said. 

6. Share effective approaches and lessons learned. During the initial stages of vaccine rollout, valuable lessons were learned, though it's unclear who is responsible for documenting them. "HHS can expedite vaccine administration by finding a way to identify and share effective practices," Mr. Pollack said. 

To read the full letter, click here.

 

 

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