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Hospitals need vaccine supply predictability ‘all the way to the loading docks’

Hospitals need predictability on when they’ll receive the vaccine and how much they’ll get, to accelerate efforts to get shots in arms, three hospital executives said during an American Hospital Association call yesterday.

“The way to end the pandemic is to mass vaccinate,” said Mike Slubowski, president and CEO of Trinity Health.

The roadblock is a lack of vaccine supply predictability, Slubowski said. At best, his team gets a 72-hour window to know how much vaccine they will receive.

What’s needed, he said, is to “create vaccine supply chain certainty all the way to hospital loading docks.”

On Tuesday, Trinity’s Holy Cross Health System opened a clinic in Silver Springs, Maryland. Because supply didn’t arrive, many appointments needed to be rescheduled.

“It’s hard to tell frontline workers and the frail and elderly we need to reschedule because the vaccine didn’t arrive,” he said.

They need to know the amount of supply to know how many first doses to give out and how much to hold back for the second doses.

Because they don’t know how much and when they’ll be receiving the vaccines, and they need to give second doses for both the Moderna and Pfizer shots, it has created the impression that hospitals are hoarding supply, said Dr. Joseph Cacchione, executive vice president of Clinical and Network Services for Ascension.

Ascension got 75,000 doses three weeks ago, 50,000 two weeks ago and 28,000 doses this past week, he said.

“We have no idea week to week what doses are coming,” Cacchione said. “We need to be aware of the vaccine supply.”

The logistical challenges have created confusion in communities and the cancellation of appointments due to lack of supply, said Dr. Christopher Rehm, senior vice president and chief medical officer for LifePoint Health.

The executives spoke with Nancy Foster, vice president for Quality and Patient Safety Policy for the AHA.

Foster said each state has its own vaccination plan, which has created another challenge for health systems that have hospitals in numerous states.

LifePoint spans 29 states, and each has a different way of doing things, Rehm said. A standardized vaccine policy across states and large cities would help.

The executives said continued funding is needed for testing and supplies. The provider relief fund has been critical to providing services, Rehm said. Funding is needed for vaccine supply, outreach, planning and distribution and the cost of staffing, supplies and space.

“We request additional federal funding to address this Herculean effort,” Rehm said.

The executives also want to see better reporting efficiency.

Reporting is still clumsy and inefficient with variations across regions, Slubowski said.

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