January 27, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

POMA continues to monitor the rapidly changing information surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

In an effort to provide accurate and helpful information to POMA members, we have gathered some of the resources we are finding to be most useful and accurate at this time. We hope this helps you in staying on top of the latest developments in the spread of the disease and in helping your patients.

Stay safe and healthy!


New Headlines

POMA Advocates for COVID-19 Vaccine Access

In last week's issue of the POMA Newsletter, POMA President Gene Battistella, DO highlighted POMA's advocacy efforts relating to COVID-19 vaccine access. Below is an excerpt of his column:

"[Since the COVID vaccine rollout plan was published in late December,] POMA has been advocating for our members on the need for vaccines for all.  We are aware of the disparities of availability of the vaccine, especially for physicians and groups without ties to health care systems, universities, or other entities.  POMA led a group advocating to Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Levine on behalf of these, and all Pennsylvania physicians.  Government officials took note and have made accommodations for these physicians battling the pandemic on the front lines and now have provided a mechanism to obtain these much needed vaccines. Although this is an improvement, vaccine availability is still not available universally to those in need (physicians, patients, and others) and the government’s efforts are still not enough. The POMA is very aware of this fact and have heard from many of our members across the Commonwealth on this matter.  We continue to work diligently on behalf of all our members in this regard and each call has been answered and addressed as best possible.  My promise to you is that we are, and will, continue to address all matters of importance to our members, especially as we continue to address the matter of vaccine availability."

Gov. Wolf Acknowledges Pa. in ‘Middle of Pack’ for COVID-19 Vaccination, Says It’s Not Good Enough

As of last Tuesday, about 4 million Pennsylvanians have highest priority for COVID-19 vaccine. The problem is, Pennsylvania is getting only about 143,000 vaccine doses per week from the federal government.

That, more than anything, is responsible for the vaccine shortage and frustration in getting appointments now plaguing Pennsylvanians, Gov. Tom Wolf said yesterday. Wolf said he expected, when Pennsylvania expanded vaccine eligibility to everyone over 65 and people 16-64 with chronic medical conditions last week, the supply of doses from the federal government would expand accordingly.

As of early Tuesday, Pennsylvania had received 1,564,125 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government and had given at least one dose to 776,799 people. Pennsylvania’s rate of doses administered, 6,068 per 100,000 people, put it behind 35 other states and Washington, D.C.

Governor Wolf was scheduled to speak with President Joe Biden’s administration yesterday afternoon, and expressed confidence the pace of vaccine manufacturing will soon improve and speed up vaccination in Pennsylvania. Late Tuesday afternoon, the Biden administration said it is ramping up purchases of coronavirus vaccines and expects to deliver enough to protect 300 million Americans by the end of the summer.


Philadelphia Launches Online Form for Residents Interested in Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health has opened its vaccine interest form online, allowing city residents to alert health officials of their desire to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The form, which can be found here, can only be used to indicate interest in getting vaccinated, and it is not a means of scheduling an appointment to get a vaccine. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health will contact those who fill out the form when they become eligible to receive a vaccine.

The health department said it will likely take weeks or months before city residents will be able to schedule appointments to receive a vaccine. Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Tuesday that the city continues to receive limited doses of both available COVID-19 vaccines, which limits the number of people to whom the city can distribute the vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Map

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has launched a provider map along with an eligibility survey on its website to help those eligible, including health care workers not affiliated with a hospital, find a location to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Users can search by location, type in an address or zip code and filter by facility type.

Department of Health Announces Week-Eight of Regional COVID-19 Testing Extension 

The Department of Health today announced beginning Thursday, January 28, regional drive-thru and indoor walk-in COVID-19 testing clinics will be held in Armstrong, Cumberland, Jefferson, Monroe, and Wayne counties.  Each site can test up to 450 patients with no appointment necessary.  Testing will be available daily from 9am to 6pm on a first-come, first-serve basis and is free to all patients.  Turnaround time for testing results is two to seven days.

The counties with testing sites will continue to change weekly over the next five weeks so that 61 counties will eventually be covered by dedicated pop-up testing sites over a 12-week period.

POMA Members Can Receive PPE Discounts

POMA is excited to announce our new partnership with ActionPPE.org to help our members acquire proper PPE supplies.  Launched in South Carolina, ActionPPE has supplied over 2.6 million units of PPE to members of over 20 state medical organizations through a reputable and certified supplier.  By pooling resources, POMA members receive a 5% discount on PPE orders when they use the discount code POMA-SAVE5. Product details and certificates for masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, etc. are provided on the site with most items in-stock and shipping directly to your office.

 PA Health Alert Network (PA HAN) - Health Alerts, Advisories and Updates

 Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

COVID-19 Vaccine Codes

On December 18, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 for individuals 18 years of age and older.

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), Medicare will cover and pay for the administration of the vaccine (when furnished consistent with the EUA). Review the updated payment and HCPCS Level I CPT code structure for specific COVID-19 vaccine information. Only bill for the vaccine administration codes when you submit claims to Medicare; don’t include the vaccine product codes when the vaccines are free.

DOH Encourages Contact Tracing Participation

Michael Huff, director of testing and contact tracing for Pennsylvania, is emphasizing the need to prioritize case investigations and for those who test positive to participate in contact tracing - two key public health activities that occur when a case of COVID-19 is identified.  With 34,000 positive cases reported in the past seven days, contact tracing has become even more critical to identifying those who may have been exposed to the virus.  The Department of Health is utilizing the CDC's case investigation prioritization recommendations, which were revised on November 23.

Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to download the free COVID Alert PA App.

Updated Pennsylvania Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Cases, Graphics, Resources

Briefings and Updates from Pa. Governor Wolf and the Department of Health

Resources from the CDC

The CDC has provided guidance and resources for healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, laboratories, as well as information for schools and childcare, businesses and employers, community and faith-based organizations, and the general public. Visit the CDC COVID-19 webpage for more information.

POMA will continue monitoring COVID-19 and provide updates and recommendations from PA-DOH, the CDC, the WHO and local health agencies. POMA's COVID-19 webpage and social media channels will be updated as information is shared from these organizations.

If you have any comments or questions for POMA, please email us at [email protected]

Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association | 1330 Eisenhower Boulevard, Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 939-9318 | www.poma.org