Vaccine Update: Governor Opens Eligibility to Phase 1b as HCA Continues to Provide Critical Resources for Home Care and Hospice

Throughout the past week — a time when home care and hospice workers were included among phase 1a priority workers — HCA compiled and circulated to members a series of spreadsheets with links for accessing the COVID-19 vaccine in addition to the state and city vaccine appointment pages.

While health care workers remain a priority (including, specifically, home care and hospice), the Governor on Friday announced the expansion of vaccine priority to phase 1b, which includes certain other essential workers and individuals age 75 and older.

The announcement came among reports that rates of vaccination have fallen well below expectations, prompting appeals from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and others to open up new priority groups. This new group brings 3 million New Yorkers into the queue, which means HCA will be especially vigilant in our advocacy to ensure the continued prioritization of home care and hospice.

“Home care and hospice workers are now in priority 1a,” said HCA Communications Director Roger Noyes in an interview for Home Health Care News last week, prior to the Governor’s announcement of the 1b expansion. “But if there’s concern that the vaccine is not being administered to health care workers at the rate it should be because of hesitancy, then there’s going to be a big impetus to push through to the other phases. Certainly, there are other priority groups that need the vaccine quickly, but my concern is whether or not this push could squeeze out access for home care and hospice workers.”

HCA encourages members to review our spreadsheet of vaccine dispensing sites on our website, which includes site locations provided to HCA by the regional vaccination hubs as well as information that HCA has culled from county health departments who have announced vaccination opportunities. We stress that this information is fluid. Many sites have run out of available appointments and may regain capacity at a later time. Other sites are being added or changed continuously.

For instance, at about 9 p.m. last night, the New York City Department of Health shared with HCA a notice that “now is the time for Phase 1a health care workers to register, as New York State has recently issued that Phase 1b … become eligible tomorrow, Monday, 1/11.” The message highlighted two sites with “appointments available this week” while noting that additional sites can be found on its vaccine finder. The sites are open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.:

Also, late Sunday evening, Northwell Health provided additional information that HCA will be including in our spreadsheet of dispensing sites, though it appeared that many of the newly identified site locations did not have available appointments as of early this morning.

Further Instructions, Education Materials and HCA Member Zoom Meeting on Wednesday

HCA urges members to review last week’s HCA alerts where we shared further instructions on preparing your staff for vaccine appointments as well as resources to educate your staff and patients about the vaccine.

We also again remind members to join us on Wednesday, January 13 at 10 a.m. for a statewide member briefing on the vaccine rollout where we’ll share the latest guidance and hear more from members about your needs, concerns and questions. You can register for the session here. This will be an important opportunity to check in with you and guide the next steps in our advocacy on your behalf.

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