Hospice News: Vaccine Roll Out Needs New Approach

Hospice News Article

January 12, 2021

Vaccine distribution to hospice and other health care providers has been lacking and stakeholders must take action to address supply chain problems, according to Tom Koutsoumpas, CEO of Capital Caring Health and the National Partnership for Hospice Innovation (NPHI). NPHI called on policymakers at the state and federal levels to address inconsistencies.

Three large drugmakers have produced COVID-19 vaccines: British-based pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN), Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) in partnership with German BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX).

“Our front-line clinical staffs have risen to the occasion to care for patients and their families during a pandemic only to be met with the dysfunction and chaos of the vaccine rollout,” Koutsoumpas said. “The delayed and jumbled distribution of recently authorized COVID-19 vaccines unfortunately acts as the latest example of our leaders outsourcing any responsibility down the chain of command with those below either unable or unwilling to pick up the pieces.”

NPHI is a coalition of non-profit hospices that collaborate on moving innovations forward, in terms of service diversification, discovering new payment models, implementing technologies and efficiencies, and uncovering new approaches to delivering care.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported that as of Jan 7 approximately 21.5 million doses of the vaccine were distributed to states, but only about 6 million had been administered. To date, more than 22 million people in the United States have contracted the virus, leading to more than 375,000 deaths, according to the CDC.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) developed Operation Warp Speed to expedite production and delivery of 300 million safe and effective vaccine doses nationwide by Jan. 2021.

NPHI cited poor coordination and communication between state, local and federal agencies nationwide as a hindrance to rapid and effective distribution, leading to inefficient allocations of vaccine to organizations with many doses left unused.

“As thousands continue to succumb to the virus daily, the pace of allocating the vaccine and administering it is a failure of leadership which constitutes a national crisis,” Koutsoumpas said. “Our best hope for ending this pandemic is for federal, state, and local officials to pick up the mantle and lead where others have fallen short. We must immediately begin to stand up centralized vaccination sites across the country operating twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week until we can declare ‘mission complete.”