December 15, 2020


VMS to Host COVID-19 Vaccine Discussion for Clinicians December 22

On December 22nd, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., the VMS is offering a panel discussion regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, the distribution in Vermont and considerations for patients. Register here. Our panel includes: 

  • Beth Kirkpatrick, M.D., faculty researcher at the UVM Larner College of Medicine and director of the Vaccine Testing Center, discussing the development and approval of COVID-19 vaccines and the potential side effects. 
  • Timothy P. Lahey, M.D., MMSC, Infectious Disease Physician and Director of Clinical Ethics at UVMMC, reviewing vaccine prioritization and distribution. 
  • William V. Raszka, M.D.Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at UVMMC, providing specific considerations for pregnant and lactating women. 

Q & A will follow. A recording of this event will be made available at here. 


COVID 19 Vaccine Updates, Resources

As VMS and the media has widely covered, the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine COVID-19 Vaccine was granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA on Friday and 1,950 doses arrived in Vermont yesterday. The same amount arrived today and another delivery is expected later this week. The University of Vermont Medical Center will be giving the first doses to high risk staff today and other Vermont hospitals will begin administering the vaccine to staff tomorrow. 1,950 of the doses entering the state later this week are specifically for long term care staff and residents and administration will begin in that setting on December 21st. VMS will be working to keep you updated about what this means for health care clinicians and patients, including hosting the Dec. 22nd webinar listed above. Along with VDH, hospitals are still working to finalize the prioritization and timing of vaccinations for community health care workers who are not employed by the hospital. Further information and process details will be shared by VDH and individual hospitals as it becomes available.

The FDA has released EUA fact sheets for Health Care Providers Administering Vaccine and Recipients and Caregivers. These address many questions regarding vaccine benefits, side effects and where to report vaccine adverse events. 

This past Sunday, ACOG released a Practice Advisory regarding Vaccinating Pregnant and Lactating Patients Against COVID 19, which concludes:

  • COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP-recommended priority groups. 
  • COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals when they meet criteria for receipt of the vaccine based on prioritization groups outlined by the ACIP.

The CDC also held a webinar on Sunday covering a wide range of topics, including vaccine administration, vaccination of special populations, and contraindications. Key takeaways included:

  • The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine should be administered alone with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccine (due to lack of data on safety and efficacy of the vaccine administered simultaneously with other vaccines).
  • Protection from the vaccine is not immediate; vaccine is a 2-dose series and it will take 1 to 2 weeks following the second dose to be considered fully vaccinated
  • Given the currently limited information on how well the vaccine works in the general population, vaccinated persons should continue to follow all current guidance to protect themselves (masks, physical distancing, wash hands, travel guidance, quarantine, etc.)

On Monday, the CDC hosted a second webinar on “What every Clinician Should Know about COVID 19 Vaccine Safety,” covering topics including what patients can expect after COVID-19 vaccination, encouraging all patients to enroll in the new smartphone-based v-safe system for health check-ins after vaccination, and how clinicians can report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. While health care clinicians must report certain adverse events to VAERS, v-safe provides a mechanism for patients to report directly on any symptoms experienced after vaccine administration.  The CDC is asking practices to display a v-safe poster and/or provide a v-safe Information Sheet to all patients. The presentation also highlighted how to evaluate and respond to health care personal and long-term care residents with post-vaccination systemic signs and symptoms that could look like  COVID-19 symptoms. Slides are now available on the COCA Call webpage.

Visit the CDC COVID-10 Vaccination website for extensive information for clinicians on the vaccine including the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Medical Centers, Clinics, and Clinicians.


Latest VDH Guidance: Vermont Health Care Practices Required to Test 25% of Employees per Month

Last Friday, the Vermont Department of Health released updated COVID 19 Guidance for Inpatient and Outpatient Procedures. The Guidance now requires that health care practices must provide monthly PCR testing for 25% of patient-facing health care providers and staff. Those who have had a positive PCR result in the last 90 days do not need to be retested, but those who have been vaccinated should continue to be tested.  Small practices can use the state test sites to fulfill this requirement. Practices must have a testing plan in place that outlines how these tests will be completed. Contact with questions or concerns.


Recent COVID-19 Guidance and Resources:

VDH Begins New Weekly COVID-19 Update Email: Sign Up Here

VMS Weekly Zoom with Commissioner of Health, Thursdays at 12:30 pm


Coalition of Health Care Associations Panel Presents Update from the Frontline of COVID-19

Last Thursday night, representatives from across the health care sector shared with the incoming 2021-2022 Vermont legislature how COVID-19 has impacted the way they deliver care. Lawmakers from both the House and Senate attended the virtual panel and asked what they could do to ensure that Vermont’s health care system can continue to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Workforce support and telehealth flexibility rose to the top of the needs of the panelists, which included Ashley Miller, M.D., on behalf of independent physicians, along with representatives from home health & hospice, adult day programs, long term care, hospitals, dentists, designated agencies and federally qualified health centers.  VMS was a sponsor of the event.

For the Coalition’s 2021 Policy Priorities click here. Check for the recording of the Update from the Frontlines of COVID-19, which will be posted shortly. 

Commissioner Call Update -  VMS weekly calls with Vermont Department of Health Commissioner, Mark Levine, M.D. are held each Thursday from 12:30-1:00 p.m. on ZOOM - click below for the virtual meeting address that will remain constant each week. 

Once a month, VMS will feature a guest speaker during this call time, as the Commissioner has a conflict. The speaker will discuss clinical protocols and best practices during the State of Emergency.

Join Zoom Meeting -

Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

Dial In: 1 646 876 9923 / Meeting ID: 867 2625 3105 / Password: 540684

Are Your Patients Covered for 2021? Open Enrollment Ends TODAY! December 15th! 

The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) has joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in a national #GetCovered2021 campaign to encourage Vermonters to enroll for health insurance coverage for 2021 before December 15, 2020. The partnership between these states and providers, individuals, and consumer advocacy organizations is focused on promoting the Get Covered 2021 campaign to help people stay safe during the pandemic and to ensure access to quality health care when people need it.  Please find more information about this national effort here. Please go to VT Health Connect here.


Six Weeks After UVM Cyberattack, IT Systems Mostly Restored

Last week, UVM Health Network President Steve Leffler, M.D. announced that six weeks after UVM was the target of a cyberattack that the majority of their IT systems have been fully restored.  He said UVMMC’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is now back and running, along with the online patient portal MyChart, and access to radiology images completed prior to the cyberattack, which had not been the case until this week. Click here for more information.


CMS Reminder: December 31, 2020 Deadline for MIPS Exception Applications

Due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, CMS will be using its Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances policy to allow MIPS eligible clinicians, groups, and virtual groups to submit an application requesting reweighting of one or more MIPS performance categories to 0% for the 2020 performance year. There are two exception applications available to clinicians in PY2020:


      VMS December Webinar: A Crisis in Vermont: Gun Violence and Suicide

      Please join us this week on Thursday, December 17, 2020 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm for our VMS December webinar. Rebecca Bell, M.D., Pediatric Critical Care physician at UVMMC and President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, and Thomas Delaney, PhD, UVM Larner College of Medicine Assistant Professor, will discuss firearm violence and suicide rates and the work that’s being done to positively impact Vermont's trends. According to a report that Delaney presented in 2018, Vermont’s suicide rate increased 30 percent more rapidly than the rest of the country between 2004 and 2017 and firearms are involved in approximately 59 percent of suicide deaths in the State. To register click here. To see the entire VMS Thursday Webinar series for 2020/2021 click here. 

      Unmasking Health Disparities through a Health Equity Lens

      December 16th, 12:30 – 2:30 PM

      Join Northern Vermont AHEC for the first of a 5-segment virtual series targeting VT health care practitioners and partners, Quality Care is Equitable Care:  The Case for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Health Care

      To register for Session 1 and/or learn more about each monthly activity click here.

      AMA Release the Pressure: RTP Wellness Wednesday Dec. 16th

      8 PM EST

      AMA's Release the Pressure (RTP) coalition, which includes the AMA, AMA Foundation, Association of Black Cardiologists, American Heart Association, Minority Health Institute and National Medical Association, is launching an extension to their RTP initiative entitled, RTP Wellness Wednesday. To kick-off the launch, radio talk show icon, Tom Joyner talks with the AMA immediate-past president, Patrice A. Harris, MD for a special 2-Part interview. Click here to learn more. 

      Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic Documentary

      Friday, January 8, 2020

      11:30 AM – 1:30 PM EST

      Earn 2.0 CME Credits for participating in this free virtual showing of the HPV Documentary, "Someone You Love." Following the film screening, participants can choose to attend two breakout session discussions focused on cancer prevention and the HPV vaccine. This event is sponsored by Bi-State Primary Care Association, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, the American Cancer Society, Southern NH Area Health Education Center, and the Vermont Department of Health. Register here. 


      Vermont Medical Society

      134 Main Street

      Montpelier, VT 05602

      -- Unsubscribe --