Notice of Proposed Changes to VMS Bylaws – Council Structure, Resolution Adoption and More
The VMS Council has recommended a number of changes to the VMS bylaws for consideration by the VMS membership at the VMS Annual Membership Meeting on November 6, 2021 from 9am – 12 pm. The goal of the changes is to streamline and modernize the VMS governance structure, including creating a more timely and responsive process for adopting resolutions and updating the membership of the Council to more closely resemble current active attendance. Please review the changes and reasoning behind them and contact VMS President Simi Ravven, MD at firstname.lastname@example.org or VMS Executive Director Jessa Barnard at email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Register for the membership meeting here. Note: The VMS Annual Meeting Planning Committee will be meeting next week to make the determination on whether to keep an in-person meeting option or to make this year’s Annual & Collaborative meeting all virtual (a virtual option is available regardless). A final decision will be shared by the end of next week.
Four Resolutions Supported by VMS Council, Advance to Membership Meeting Nov. 6
At the VMS Council Meeting last Wednesday, September 15, the Council reviewed four proposed policy resolutions, along with extensive comments received from VMS members over the course of a month-long survey. Over 80 members submitted comments on the resolutions. Ultimately, the Council voted to support all four as they advance to the membership meeting, with minor amendments to several. The resolutions as supported by the Council are:
1. Coverage for Audio-Only Telehealth
2. Call to Prioritize Primary Care Resolution
3. Support for Increased Access to Home Health and Hospice Services
4. Addressing Pediatric Mental Health Needs in Vermont Resolution
The resolutions will now be considered at the VMS Membership Meeting on November 6, 2021 from 9am – 12 pm. Register here.
FDA Committee Votes to Authorize Pfizer Booster; Pfizer Says Vaccine Safe for Kids 5-11
Late Friday, the US FDA Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) unanimously voted to give Emergency Use Authorization for a Pfizer booster dose for those:
- 65 years of age or older
- At high risk of severe COVID-19 or work in high-risk occupations.
The third shot should be given at least six months after the second. The Committee rejected a recommendation to give boosters to all eligible recipients of Pfizer. The FDA is not obligated to follow the advice of the committee, but often does. The FDA said the final decision, expected this week, could be slightly different. US CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will further fine tune the recommendations, including what constitutes “high risk” or “high risk occupations.” The ACIP is currently scheduled to meet this Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and September 23, 2021, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. ACIP meetings can be viewed by clicking here. No registration is required. Pfizer also stated on Monday that its vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5-11, that the company will seek an emergency use authorization for use in children this age by the end of September and that the vaccine might be available to this age group by Halloween.
Clinicians Invited: October 1 at 2pm – 3pm (EST) Pfizer leaders will share an update on the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Mary Moran, Senior Director, U.S. Medical Affairs COVID-19 Vaccine Lead, will be the featured speaker. Topics covered will include information updates on the vaccine development program as well as the US distribution plans with the states. Questions can be submitted using the Q&A panel on the lower right side of the screen.
Webex Event number: 2590 423 4864
Event password: PnUpMwY5Y77
Event address for attendees: https://pfizerevents.webex.com/pfizerevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=e12df7971e8c89d73c48efd99af892af2
Vermont Agency of Education to Release Updated Contact Tracing/Testing Strategies
During the Scott Administration’s weekly press conference today, Agency of Education (AOE) Secretary Dan French said that schools need to develop a more sustainable process for contact tracing. He said school districts are spending long hours identifying close contacts and often students are quarantining, missing quality school time and very few students identified as close contacts are testing positive for COVID. The AOE will be announcing a revision to their contact tracing process that will shift contact tracing resources to elementary schools with students that are not yet eligible for vaccination. In schools with over an 80% vaccination rate, a letter will be sent to parents and students in classrooms with close contacts recommending the students to get tested within 3-5 days of an exposure to a COVID positive case but will not require quarantine. (No schools have yet met the 80% benchmark). The other half of the strategy is related to testing, and the AOE will assist with testing capacity for schools where positive cases have been identified. They are also piloting take home PCR tests kits in five districts, which include the Champlain Valley district in Williston, the Montpelier/Roxbury district, the Bennington/Rutland district in the Manchester area, the Windham/Southeast Supervisory Union in Brattleboro and the Essex/North Supervisory Union in Cannan. The take home PCR tests, with a 72-hour turn around, will be used when a student has been identified as a close contact and is quarantining or is symptomatic, staying home and needs a test.
At the press conference, Secretary of the Agency of Human Service Mike Smith said that the state is prepared to offer 3rd Pfizer booster shots once authorized by the FDA. He expects registration to open the day after FDA approval, which could come as soon as this week, with appointments available shortly thereafter. He said all boosters are likely to be administered by appointment only and Vermonters should check not only state appointments but pharmacies, if that is where they received their initial two doses, for booster administration.
For more information:
AMA Report: Opioid Prescriptions Decrease for 10th Year in a Row
Today the AMA released its 2021 Overdose Epidemic Report. The report finds that while the nation’s prescription opioid supply has decreased for the 10th consecutive year, more Americans than ever are dying from drug-related overdose—primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, methamphetamine and cocaine. Overdose and death related to heroin and prescription opioids still remains too high. New national data from leading health data clearinghouse IQVIA show that every state in the nation saw a large decrease of prescription opioids dispensed from retail pharmacies between 2011-2020. Vermont saw a 52% decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions between 2011 and 2020 and a 49% decrease in opioid MMEs. Yet, opioid-related deaths in Vermont are higher so far in 2021 than previous years. The AMA calls on the nation’s policymakers to pivot to increasing access to evidence-based care for patients with a substance use disorder, co-occurring mental illness and for patients with pain.
New Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) Materials Available for Healthcare Professionals
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed and tested new materials to support healthcare professionals in diagnosing and treating multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). MIS-C is a rare, but serious complication associated with COVID-19 in children, adolescents, and young adults where multiple organ systems can become inflamed. Resources are now available on the CDC website, including a visual one-pager on How to Recognize MIS-C and What Parents Need to Know about MIS-C.
On Demand Webinar In Recognition of National Physician Suicide Awareness Day
In recognition of National Physician Suicide Awareness Day, which occured September 17, 2021, the Federation of State Physician Health Programs, in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is offering this on-demand complimentary 2-hour program, “Physician Suicide Prevention: Listening to the Voices of Experience.”
This event features presentations from J. Corey Feist, JD, MBA and Jennifer Breen Feist, JD (founders of the Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation) as well as discussions with leaders from the AMA, ACGME, FSMB, AFSP, and FSPHP aimed at raising awareness and preventing physician suicide, including:
- Discussion of the role of Physician Health Programs (PHP) and the impact of a physician suicide at a PHP, the options for support, and the benefits of access to therapy and peer groups via telehealth.
- Demonstrating how to screen and have a conversation with someone at risk, and create comfort.