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COVID-19: Vaccine Access and Effectiveness

President Joe Biden on March 29 announced new initiatives to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, including a “90/90” campaign. By April 19, there will be a vaccine site within five miles of 90 percent of Americans, and 90 percent of U.S. adults will be eligible for a vaccine, with the remaining 10 percent eligible by May 1.

By April 19, the number of pharmacies giving out vaccines will increase from 17,000 to nearly 40,000. The federal government will add 12 mass vaccination sites and provide funding to states for community vaccination sites, Biden said. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services will provide funding for transportation and other resources to improve vaccine access for older adults and people with disabilities.

Biden also called on governors, mayors, and local leaders to maintain and reinstate mask mandates to protect against the continued spread of SARS-CoV-2, including new variants. As of March 22, 17 states did not have a mask mandate.

CDC Study Finds mRNA Vaccines Effective

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study shows molecular RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections in health care workers, first responders, and essential workers.

For 13 weeks, the study followed 3,950 participants in six states who received the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. It takes approximately two weeks after each dose of an mRNA vaccine for the body to produce antibodies that protect against infection. Two weeks after the second vaccine dose, SARS-CoV-2 infection risk among participants was reduced 90 percent. Two weeks after a single dose of either vaccine, infection risk was reduced 80 percent.

While Phase 3 clinical trials evaluated vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 disease, this study was novel because it evaluated the vaccine’s effectiveness against both symptomatic and asymptomatic infection. Of the infections detected in the study, 10.7 percent were asymptomatic.

This CDC study, conducted through the HEROES-RECOVER network, is the first of several planned vaccine effectiveness studies that will inform the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations.

Eviction Moratorium Extended

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, extended until June 30 the moratorium preventing the eviction of tenants who are unable to make rental payments. The eviction moratorium, an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in unhoused populations and in congregate living situations, was set to expire March 31.

CMS Announces Hospital Surveys will Resume after 30-day Restrictions

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced March 26 it will lift a 30-day survey suspension for hospitals, initially issued Jan. 20 and previously extended. Non–Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) Hospital Complaints received during the suspension period must be investigated within 45 days. Non-IJ Open Enforcement Cases will have up to 90 days to comply with outstanding deficiencies.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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