Family Voices Want to Know What You Think

In partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Family Voices, Inc. (National) is hosting 3 focus groups for families of #CYSHCN to learn about what they know and what more they want to know about flu vaccines.  The focus group will be held virtually, in English, on April 28 from 3 to 4:15 pm. Families will receive a $125 stipend in thanks for their time. Please complete the survey on the flyer linked below if you are interested, and share with others in your networks!  http://ow.ly/e4wF50Eh6dZ

Family Voices and the American Academy of Pediatrics want to know what families think about influenza (flu) vaccinations for their children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN).
When it comes to flu vaccines for CYSHCN:
•What information does your family want to know?
•What concerns might your family have?
•What type of messaging would help your family understand the importance of a flu vaccine?
•How would you like to learn about flu vaccines to make an informed decision for your CYSHCN?
•Who is your most trusted source of information about the importance of a flu vaccine for your CYSHCN?
Families Voices is convening a focus group to learn what families know AND what else they want to know about flu vaccines for CYSHCN.
•The focus group will be virtual, in English, and will last 75 minutes.
•Participants will receive a $125 stipend in recognition of their time.
• The information learned during the focus group will be shared with the AAP. Your name and any personal identifying information about your child and family will not be shared or reported.
To be eligible to participate, you must be:
• 18 years or older and the parent/caregiver of a CYSHCN that is younger than 18 years old.
The Focus Group will take place on:
Wednesday, April 28, 2021. 3 4:15pm ET; 2 2:15pm CT; 1 2:15pm MT; 12 1:15pm PT
If interested, please complete the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AAP Families by 8pm Wednesday , April 21.
Note: Invitations to participate in the focus group will depend on your child’s diagnosis, geography, race, and ethnicity to ensure we hear from families who are representative of the population of the country. Only the focus group participants will receive a stipend.

Everyone 16 and Older Eligible for Vaccine – April 15

Everyone 16 and older who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will be eligible to receive one in Washington state starting April 15. The state’s phased eligibility approach has helped ensure those most vulnerable were the first to be vaccinated, including older adults, those in long term care facilities, critical health care workers, and more. The federal government said vaccine allocations will continue to increase. This, combined with continued hard work from our providers across the state to get shots in arms, has allowed the state to open eligibility sooner than expected to help us stop the spread of the virus.

Currently Pfizer-BioNTech is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for people 16 years of age and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are authorized for people 18 and older. Those age 16 or 17 may need consent from a parent or guardian to get the vaccine, unless they are legally emancipated.

Phase 1B tiers 3 and 4 now open

Wednesday Washington entered Phase 1B tiers 3 and 4 of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine timeline. This advancement opened eligibility to about 2 million people, including people 16 years or older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying conditions, people age 60 and older, people, staff and volunteers in certain congregate living settings, and high-risk critical workers in certain congregate settings. For a detailed list of who is eligible please refer to DOH’s vaccine allocation and prioritization guidance document.

Phase Finder, the state’s online vaccine eligibility tool, is no longer needed to verify vaccine eligibility. Eligibility and vaccine location information can be found on Vaccine Locator. Those who need help can call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Language assistance is available.

State’s online eligibility tool no longer required starting March 31

OLYMPIA – Phase Finder, the state’s online vaccine eligibility tool, will no longer be required to verify COVID-19 vaccine eligibility starting March 31.

That means that people who want a vaccine should check DOH’s prioritization guidance webpage to see when they are eligible to get vaccinated. Those who are eligible can then use Vaccine Locator to find an appointment. After March 30, those who visit the Phase Finder site will be directed to Vaccine Locator. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has informed vaccine providers of this change. DOH has asked that providers no longer require Phase Finder to schedule an appointment or ask for it when patients arrive for their appointment.

Vaccine Locator is available in 30 languages and will add seven more languages by the end of April. Those who have further questions or need help making an appointment can call the state’s COVID-19 information hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Language assistance is available.

While Phase Finder is going away, the state’s vaccine phases are staying the same. The state remains in Phase 1B2, and on March 31, vaccine eligibility opens to people in Phase 1B tiers 3 and 4.

“The goal is to vaccinate as many vulnerable community members as fast as possible before opening vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years and older in just a few weeks. Removing Phase Finder will help speed up the process by reducing barriers for eligible individuals,” says Michele Roberts, one of the state leaders for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. “We trust most people will continue to do the right thing and wait their turn to be vaccinated.”

COVID-19 data show some signs of increasing activity

OLYMPIA – Today the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest statewide situation report on COVID-19, which shows the state’s progress in fighting COVID-19 since early January is slowing. These trends are cause for significant concern as variants of the virus that spread more easily and cause more serious illness become more widespread in the state. Report findings include:

  • COVID-19 transmission may be increasing. Our estimates for the reproductive number – how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect – remain close to one, with more uncertainty in recent weeks than over the previous few months. The best estimate of the reproductive number in Washington on March 5 was 1.28. The goal is to maintain a reproductive number well below one—meaning COVID-19 transmission is declining—for a substantial amount of time.
  • Statewide daily case counts have flattened at a relatively high level of around 654 new cases per day as of March 11. Case counts began flattening over the previous month following declines that started in early January.
  • Many counties are seeing cases plateau, though there is some variation from county to county. Twenty-three of 39 counties had rates lower than 100 new cases per 100,000 people over the two-week period ending on March 11, and three of those counties had no new cases during that time. During that same time, 13 counties had rates between 100 and 200 new cases per 100,000 people, and two counties had rates between 200-300 new cases per 100,000 people. One county had over 400 new cases per 100,000 people, demonstrating how quickly the situation can shift as people change their behavior.
  • Cases among people over 60 years old are declining more rapidly as the proportion of vaccinated people in this age group grows. Across all age groups, declines in case counts began in early January and largely flattened over the last month, with some recent variability among younger adults and youths. With lower vaccination rates, these younger populations remain susceptible to the disease. This is particularly concerning as variants of concern increase, since even young people can get severely ill and die of COVID-19.
  • Hospital admission rates have declined since early January among all age groups. However, we have started to see these declines flatten among people 80 and older (a population that is more vulnerable to severe illness) and people age 40 to 49 (a population with a lower proportion of vaccinated people than older groups).
  • The number of hospital beds occupied by confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients began increasing in mid-March after steady declines since January. We see this uptick in the total number of occupied beds as well as in intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
  • The estimated prevalence (percentage of people with active COVID-19 infections) has plateaued since early February, following declines in January. High prevalence means there are a lot of people with infections who may need health care and could be spreading the virus to others. The best model-based prevalence estimate as of March 5 was 0.11%.

“I am increasingly concerned about the signs we’re seeing in our data. Previous declines have stopped, and disease activity may be increasing,” said Acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH. “We all need to recognize that the pandemic is not over and significant risk remains, even as we vaccinate more and more people. We need to limit the spread of the virus by actively making good choices in our communities, including wearing masks, keeping our distance, avoiding gatherings and delaying travel.”

2021 Special Enrollment Period Access Extended to August 15 on HealthCare.gov for Marketplace Coverage

President Biden announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is extending access to the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) until August 15 – giving consumers additional time to take advantage of new savings through the American Rescue Plan. This action provides new and current enrollees an additional three months to enroll or re-evaluate their coverage needs with increased tax credits available to reduce premiums.

“Every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care – especially as we fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Through this Special Enrollment Period, the Biden Administration is giving the American people the chance they need to find an affordable health care plan that works for them. The American Rescue Plan will bring costs down for millions of Americans, and I encourage consumers to visit HealthCare.gov and sign up for a plan before August 15.”

Read the full press release here.

Inslee announces extension of eviction moratorium, expansion of vaccine eligibility, long-term care visitations may resume

“Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that the statewide eviction moratorium will be extended through June 20, as well as upcoming vaccine eligibility expansion, including restaurant workers and Washingtonians 60 and older. He also announced that effective immediately, visitations at long-term care facilities and nursing homes may resume.

In addition, the state Department of Health (DOH) today launched a new web tool to help people find open vaccination appointments near them.

Eviction moratorium extension

The governor announced that the statewide eviction moratorium will be extended through June 30, 2021. The moratorium, first put in place exactly a year ago today, has been a vital protection for families struggling with the persistent economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic’s economic toll continues to burden many Washingtonians, particularly tenants,” Inslee said during a press conference Thursday. “People need these supports right now. There is no other way to look at it.”

Since the moratorium was first instituted, hundreds of millions of dollars have gone toward rental assistance — for both tenants and landlords. Additional rental assistance will be available through the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act from the federal government.”

Read the full announcement here.

Phase 1b-2 expansion: Individuals with disabilities that put them at high risk become eligible for vaccines

OLYMPIA — As the state advances to the next tier of vaccine eligibility, the Washington State Department of Health wants to emphasize that the expansion will include some people with disabilities. 

People with disabilities continue to experience access barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine and certain disabilities can put someone at increased risk for severe illness. This prioritization is intentional to provide access to a high-risk group that experiences more barriers to access.  

Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that Washington state will make an early move to Phase 1b-2, advancing on March 17 instead of March 22. Phase 1b-2 includes pregnant people and individuals with disabilities that put them at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Phase 1b-2 also includes a number of high-risk worker groups. Read more about who is eligible here.

Individuals with disabilities are eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1b-2 if their disability alone puts them at higher risk for severe illness, or if they have a disability coupled with another underlying condition identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If people are unsure if their disability puts them at greater risk, they should have a conversation with their health care provider.

“These prioritization recommendations came directly from disability partners, families of people with disabilities, and members of our COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Collaborative. We appreciate the willingness of communities and partners to provide us feedback so we can strive for equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Katie Meehan, Equitable Policy & Access Manager for the Washington State Department of Health.

It’s also important to remember that caregivers are still eligible for a vaccine.  Anyone who supports the daily, functional and health needs of someone who is at high risk of COVID-19 illness due to advanced age, long term physical condition, co-morbidities, or developmental or intellectual disability is considered a health care worker and is therefore eligible.  They can be licensed, unlicensed, paid, unpaid, formal or informal. The person for whom they are providing care can be an adult or child. 

For more information on underlying medical conditions, visit the CDC’s website.

2021 National Survey on Health and Disability

Share how access to health care, insurance and the COVID-19 pandemic affects your life

The NIDILRR-funded Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living (CHRIL) at the University of Kansas is looking for adults with disabilities to complete an online survey about health insurance, health care access and the current pandemic. Whether you have private insurance, insurance from an employer, TRICARE, Medicaid, Medicare or no insurance right now please complete the survey.

  • Adults, 18 and over, with any type of disability, chronic illness/disease, mental or physical health condition are encouraged to participate.
  • The survey should take about 20 minutes to complete.
  • Responses are anonymous.
  • The survey may look familiar to you. It was posted in 2018 and 2019, and is being posted for a third time now. We welcome participation from those who completed it before and those who have never done it before.

To complete the survey, go to: http://tinyurl.com/NSHD2021

Whether or not you complete the survey, you can choose to enter a drawing to win one of fifteen $100 gift cards. Weekly drawings will happen until the survey closes April 30, 2021. If you prefer to take the survey over the phone or have any questions about participating, please call toll-free 1-855-556-6328 (Voice/TTY) or email healthsurvey@ku.edu

Phase 1B2 Starts Next Week

DOH, in partnership with the office of Governor Jay Inslee, is expediting the vaccine timeline, expanding eligibility to some critical workers on March 17 instead of the originally planned date of March 22. People age 65 and older are encouraged to make an appointment to get their COVID-19 vaccine now. Washington is currently vaccinating people in Phases 1A and 1B1. If you had a difficult time making an appointment in the past, please try again. The system has improved, and more appointments have opened. We also ask that family, friends, and neighbors reach out to older adults to see if they need help making an appointment. It is important everyone is vaccinated, especially those at highest risk.

To get your vaccine, first confirm you are eligible using Phase Finder. Please print or copy the confirmation page and share that information with your vaccine provider for proof of eligibility. If you need help finding a place to get your COVID-19 vaccine, the state’s Vaccine Locator website is a great resource. Those who need further help can call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Language assistance is available.

This week DOH announced it would adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on safe behaviors post-vaccine. This gives fully vaccinated people more freedom to gather and socialize with others inside homes without wearing a mask. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna) or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). People who are fully vaccinated can begin to resume some of the activities they stopped doing because of the pandemic, such as hugging their grandkids and spending more time with their loved ones.

Moving into Phase 1B-2: Critical workers, pregnant people eligible for COVID-19 vaccine in late March

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Governor Jay Inslee have set a date for advancing to the next phases of vaccine eligibility, making the life-saving shot available to more people in the coming weeks.

Changes to who is eligible are projected to begin on March 22, when the state will include those in Phase 1B-2, making more people eligible to receive this life-saving vaccine. 1B-2 will now include all the high-risk critical workers in certain congregate settings, and there will be no age distinction among them. This essentially means that 1B-2 will include all the critical workers who were previously in phases 1B-2 and 1B-4. DOH will also open 1B-2 eligibility to people 16 and over who are pregnant or have certain disabilities that greatly increase risk of severe illness from COVID-19. We acknowledge and appreciate the feedback from our community partners, including from the Vaccine Implementation Collaborative, to intentionally include these groups. Read the complete guidance regarding who will become eligible here.

Additional high-risk groups will be included as follows:

  • April 12 – people with 2+ comorbidities who are 50 and older (1B-3)
  • April 26 – People with 2+ comorbidities who are 16 and older (1B-3)
  • April 26 – People, staff, and volunteers in congregate living settings (1B-4)

All of these dates are tentative and subject to change based on vaccine demand and supply.

“Since the beginning, our state vaccine prioritization process has been focused on helping those who are most at-risk first. This next phase continues with those values and I am glad that we can provide a pathway for this next group to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.

“This is the kind of forward progress we want to see with vaccines across the state,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “More than 1.7 million vaccines have been given in our state in less than three months. We have proven that we can get shots in arms and we can do it quickly and in an equitable manner. As long we have ample supply from our federal partners, we can continue down this very promising road.”

“We want to make it clear that people who are already eligible will continue to be eligible,” said Michele Roberts, Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Community Health and one of the state’s leaders for the vaccine rollout. “When a new group starts, it will take time to get them all vaccinated, so we appreciate people’s patience as we open up phases of eligibility.”

To assess eligibility to receive COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the recently updated DOH Phase Finder tool. View a list of vaccine locations here.