Dear Signature Family,
In the last 2 weeks, we have seen the beginnings of the next phase in the world's response to the coronavirus pandemic with the roll out of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In the US, the Moderna vaccine will likely receive emergency use authorization from the FDA later this week and will begin shipping for administration next week. In addition, there are 14 other vaccine candidates being tested for efficacy in large scale studies worldwide that will be added in the months to come. The process of getting a vaccine to an individual is complicated and has generated many questions. This is what we have learned so far:
- Authorized vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in more than 70,000 people enrolled in studies so far. Without reservation, the doctors at Signature recommend vaccination in eligible patients when available.
- Vaccine supply will be very limited in the beginning but will gradually increase over the next several months and with authorization of other vaccines.
- Distribution and administration of the vaccine in North Carolina will be coordinated by the NC Department of Health and Human Services using a prioritization strategy (Phase 1-4) and a centralized computer platform called the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS). Signature Healthcare will eventually be enrolled in this system but probably not until January or February 2021.
- At this time, there is not an official list for vaccination. Prioritization and distribution of authorized vaccines is an evolving process. Hospitals, health departments and skilled nursing facilities will be receiving all available inventory for the near future. Independent practices will not be able access vaccine until there are sufficient supplies.
- Those most at risk for the disease and its complications will be vaccinated first (phase 1A). This includes frontline healthcare workers and residents/staff of long-term care facilities. Next in line will be individuals with 2 or more chronic medical conditions that put them at risk of severe illness (phase 1B). Those conditions are: Cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart failure, coronary artery disease, organ transplant, obesity (BMI greater than 30), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. If you fall into this group, you may be contacted by your subspecialty provider with vaccination details.
- The next group (phase 2) includes adults 65 years of age or older, younger adults with one of the chronic conditions noted above and remaining healthcare workers. Many of the patients and staff at Signature Healthcare will fall into this group. We will contact you as soon as we can begin administering the vaccine or have information about other vaccination opportunities.
- Until vaccination is more widely available, it is vital that you continue to follow the measures that have been shown to protect you and those around you:
- Wear a mask
- Maintain social distance and avoid crowds
- Wash your hands
We will continue to communicate new information regarding vaccination as it becomes available. Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!