October 20, 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

It's Time to Get the Flu Vaccine

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the CDC are promoting the 2021-22 flu vaccine to help protect yourself, your family and your community from flu. This year, both the flu shot and nasal spray are available and recommended for everyone six months of age and older to protect against the flu. October is a great time to get a flu vaccine!

Click here to learn more about the 2021-22 flu season.

FDA Advisory Committee Recommends COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters; FDA Decisions Pending

Last week, the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee passed several recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccine boosters.

On October 15, the committee unanimously recommended a second shot of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine for all recipients aged 18 and older at least two months after their first dose. 

On October 14, the committee unanimously recommended booster shots of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for adults aged 65 and older and those at high risk of severe illness or occupational exposure to the virus.

A final decision from the FDA is expected within days.

In anticipation of a request from Pfizer to all the use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children 5 through 11 years of age, the committee has scheduled a meeting on October 26.

The FDA intends to livestream these committee meetings on the agency's website and YouTube, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Blanket Mask Exemptions Raise Significant Concerns About Medical Judgement

There are press reports in Pennsylvania of a physician who has been offering blanket mask exemptions for individuals. Issuance of a mask exemption without medical evaluation and a valid medical reason brings into question whether the physician exercised appropriate medical judgment and could lead to investigation and potential disciplinary action by the applicable state board of medicine. Besides possible licensure disciplinary measures, POMA is concerned that a physician who gives a blanket exemption could face civil liability not only from the physician’s patients but, possibly, from third parties. It is possible that a court might find that injury or death from COVID-19 resulting from a person infected by someone not wearing a mask with the permission of a physician given without exercising medical judgment was the proximate, foreseeable cause of the injury or death from COVID-19. POMA members should be very cautious in granting mask exemptions in the middle of a pandemic.

Pennsylvania's COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Pennsylvania is currently administering the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination numbers for Pennsylvania do not include Philadelphia, which is its own jurisdiction, or federal facilities, which are working directly with the federal government.

According to the PA Department of Health, as of October 20, 13,441,860 total doses have been administered, including 391,170 additional shots for immunocompromised individuals and booster shots. There are 6,397,401 fully vaccinated people with a seven-day moving average of more than 24,600 people per day receiving vaccinations.

According to the CDC, as of October 19th, 70.8% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Pennsylvania ranks 5th among all states for total doses administered.

Become a COVID-19 Vaccine Provider

POMA is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to spread the word that YOU can become a COVID-19 vaccine provider!

Several months ago, Pennsylvania's Acting Physician General Denise Johnson, MD spoke about the DOH's current vaccine objective, pivoting from larger/mass vaccination sites to community physician practices. Enroll as a provider and administer the vaccine in your office - click here to access the enrollment form.

Read the full message from Dr. Johnson regarding this important initiative and how you can keep your community healthy.

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

Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

PA DOH Rolls Out New Video Resource About COVID Vaccine Safety

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Director of the Vaccine Education Center and Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Paul Offit have developed a video resource for Pennsylvanians to answer questions about COVID vaccine safety. The video includes a review of the vaccine approval process through the FDA, including the Emergency Use Authorization. They also discuss information on the increasing scientific data on the safety of vaccines for children and pregnant women and the effectiveness of the vaccine against variants, with a highlighted focus on effectiveness against the delta variant.

Dr. Johnson said "With so much information and misinformation out there, access to reliable and trusted sources can help you make the best decision for you and your family... It's essential that we continue to inform and educate Pennsylvanians about the COVID-19 vaccines, because good information leads to good decisions."

Anyone can access and share this video resource on Facebook or PAcast.

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