Coronavirus Response Newsletter

This post has been archived and contains information that may be out of date.

Initial Vaccine Allocation Guidelines Released; CDPH to Hold Office Hours Dec. 11 

On Dec. 5, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released its recommended guidelines for allocating the COVID-19 vaccine during Phase 1-A of statewide distribution. The guidelines were developed by California’s COVID-19 Drafting Guidelines Workgroup and Community Vaccine Advisory Committee using a phased approach to allocating the initially limited vaccine supply among prioritized populations.  

California anticipates having 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine between approximately Dec. 12 and Dec. 15, with an additional 700,000 to 1 million doses in late December. The guidelines provide that during the first allocation phase, known as Phase 1-A, the vaccine should be offered as follows: 

  • Persons at risk of exposure through their work in any role in direct health care or long-term care settings. This group includes not only direct care providers such as doctors and nurses, but people at direct risk of exposure in their non-clinical roles, such as environmental services, patient transport, or interpretation staff. 
  • Residents of skilled-nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and similar long-term care settings for older or medically vulnerable individuals 
  • Paramedics, EMTs, and others providing emergency medical services 
  • Dialysis center employees 

Because the amount of vaccine available is expected to be insufficient for the number of people in these prioritized populations during Phase 1-A, the guidelines recommend that local health departments sub-prioritize the doses allocated to them as needed to match the level of available supplies. The recommended categories for sub-prioritization are: (1) type of facility or role, which is divided into three tiers; (2) location of the facility; and (3) attributes of the individuals.    

Allocation guidelines for prioritizing populations for later phases of the vaccine distribution are being developed. CHA will distribute these additional guidelines as they are released. Hospitals with questions about vaccine allocation are encouraged to contact their local health department.  

Vaccination Planning Office Hours Session on Dec. 11 
CDPH will host an Office Hours call for hospitals on COVID-19 vaccination Dec. 11 from 9 to 10 a.m. (PT). The Office Hours will include information about vaccine allocation and provider enrollment. Visit this link to participate.  

Updated Vaccination Primer Includes Additional Details for Hospitals  
CHA has updated its COVID-19: Vaccination Primer for California Hospitals with new information released by the state on timing and number of initial doses statewide, prioritization of those receiving the vaccine in Phases 1-A and 1-B, distribution during Phase 1-A, required training for hospitals, and more.  

Valencia Branch Lab Offers Additional Testing Capacity 
The Valencia Branch Lab (VBL) is offering additional testing capacity for hospitals under a new fast-track opportunity. Hospitals have been offered ongoing enrollment for testing if they meet specific community health equity goals; the new fast track opportunity will allow any hospital to use the VBL without meeting specific health equity goals for a limited time, until Jan. 31, 2021. Questions can be directed to  

The VBL onboarding document will soon be available on the COVID-19 Testing Task Force website and the VBL website, which also includes a comprehensive playbook, FAQs, and a collection site interest form. Of note, hospitals are responsible for: 

  • Collecting specimens and transporting to the lab within 24 hours of collection (collection kits are provided by the VBL, while other collection costs are absorbed by the hospital) 
  • Using the Color software (at no cost) to gather patient data, submit, and receive results 
  • Accepting that results will not interface with their electronic medical record (EMR) but through the Color software that will have to be re-entered into their EMR    

State Launches Service to Support Critical Care Telemedicine in Hospitals 
The California Health and Human Services Agency has announced a service, in partnership with the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) and Vituity, to provide telemedicine critical care support to hospital patient care teams. The service offers three tiers of consultation by tele-intensivists: telephonic consultation, formal critical advisory consultation, and active attending physician clinical management. To participate, hospitals should submit this online form.   

Upon receipt of the form, Vituity will contact the hospital to coordinate service. Vituity is a physician-owned organization that provides emergency medicine, hospital medicine, anesthesiology, critical care, acute psychiatry, neurology, telehealth, urgent care, and post-acute care services for 15 states and the District of Columbia. Details about the service provided and process for securing them are here.  

CMS Announces Acute Hospital Care at Home Waiver Process, Will Host Call Dec. 9 
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a new Acute Hospital Care at Home program to provide support for a model of at-home hospital care. The program builds on the regulatory flexibility provided by the existing Hospital Without Walls waiver and could be used to provide appropriate and safe treatment for certain acute conditions in home settings with proper monitoring and treatment protocols. CMS is accepting hospital waiver requests at its online portal and has developed FAQs.  

On Dec. 9 from 1 to 2 p.m. (PT), CMS will host a stakeholder call featuring two leading organizations that will walk participants through their programs, as well as a question-and-answer session. To join the call, dial (833) 614-0820 and enter passcode 1235939. The webcast link is here.   

California RN Education and Training for COVID-19 Critical Care 
EMSA has partnered with Elsevier to develop a two-day continuing education training that includes skills training preceptor modules and extensive knowledge-related modules on vital aspects of caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care. California-licensed registered nurses can earn up to 16 continuing education units at no cost.   

Next CDPH Call for Health Care Facilities: Dec. 15, 8-9 a.m. (PT)   
Dial: (844) 721-7239  
Passcode: 7993227   

Summary of Dec. 1 CDPH Call 
CDPH has provided a summary of its recent weekly call with health care facilities.