Vaccines.gov Website Is Now Live
CMS would like to make you aware that the federally supported website that makes it easier for individuals to access COVID-19 vaccines is now live. Vaccines.gov – powered by the trusted VaccineFinder brand – is available in English and Spanish, with high accessibility standard, and will help connect Americans with locations offering vaccines near them. In addition to the website, people in the U.S. are also now able to utilize a text message service, available in both English and Spanish. People can text their ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) and 822862 (VACUNA) to find three locations nearby that have vaccines available.
Vaccines.gov is meant to complement the number of state and pharmacy websites that have been successfully connecting many Americans with vaccinations, by providing a unified federal resource for Americans to use no matter where they are.
In addition to the website and text messaging service, the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline is now available to help those who prefer to get information by phone on where to get a vaccine. Call 1-800-232-0233 to find a location near you.
COVID-19 Vaccine Resources: What Partners Need to Know Now 5/10/2021
As COVID-19 vaccines continue rolling out across the country, CMS is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients and providers and keeping you updated on the latest COVID-19 resources from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
With information coming from many different sources, CMS has up-to-date resources and materials to help you share important and relevant information on the COVID-19 vaccine with the people that you serve. You can find these and more resources on the COVID-19 Partner Resources Page and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page. We look forward to partnering with you to encourage our beneficiaries to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity. For more information, visit the CMS COVID-19 Policies and Guidance page.
VACCINES.GOV MAKING IT EASIER TO FIND VACCINES
Access to a vaccine should not be an obstacle for someone to get vaccinated. Here are three vaccine tools to bring to your communities right now:
- Visit vaccines.gov (English) or vacunas.gov (Spanish) to search and find a vaccine near you.
- Text GETVAX (438829) for English or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish to receive three vaccine sites on your phone within seconds.
- Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 for those who prefer to get information via phone call.
NEW COVID-19 RESOURCES: SPREAD THE WORD
COVID-19 Community Champions
On May 5, 2021, CMS debuted the first social media videos highlighting long-term care staff, also referred to as Community Champions, who moved from being initially uncertain about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to accepting the vaccine– and encouraging their peers to do the same.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, staff in nursing homes have been providing ongoing care to our nation’s most vulnerable. This social media campaign is intended to help increase vaccine acceptance amongst long-term care staff. Please like and share our Community Champions video: https://youtu.be/k0WbAhveyDY We can do this!
COVID-19 conference cards
Conference cards are available to order from the CMS Product Ordering web site in multiple languages. They can be found under the Featured Medicare button:
- Bring Your Medicare Card When You Get Your Covid-19 Vaccine
- Stay Protected from Covid-19 – Medicare Covers the Vaccine
COVID-19-RELATED COVERAGE AND PAYMENT
HRSA COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund (CAF)
On May 3, 2021, HHS, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced a new program covering the cost of administering COVID-19 vaccines to patients enrolled in health plans that either do not cover vaccination fees or cover them with patient cost-sharing. This new program is called the HRSA COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund (CAF).
“After securing enough COVID-19 vaccines for all adults, the Biden-Harris Administration is elevating work to boost access to them,” said HHS Secretary Becerra. “We listened to our healthcare providers on the frontlines of the pandemic. On top of increasing reimbursement rates tied to administering the shots, we are closing the final payment gap that resulted as vaccines were administered to underinsured individuals. No healthcare provider should hesitate to deliver these critical vaccines to patients over reimbursement cost concerns.”
See the press release on this announcement here.
Increased Medicare Payment for Administering Monoclonal Antibodies
CMS has increased Medicare payment for administering monoclonal antibodies to treat beneficiaries with COVID-19, continuing coverage under the Medicare Part B COVID-19 Vaccine Benefit. This means more providers and suppliers are readily able to administer these treatments. Beneficiaries are not responsible for any cost sharing, regardless of where the service is furnished – including in a physician’s office, other healthcare facility or at home.
The national average payment rate has increased from $310 to $450 for most health care providers. In support of providers’ efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, CMS will also establish a higher national payment rate of $750 for at-home monoclonal antibodies treatment.
In addition, CMS is updating coding resources for providers. More information can be found here.
For more information, visit www.cms.gov/covidvax.
New Funding for Rural Clinics and Hospitals
On May 4, HHS and HRSA announced new funding thanks to the American Rescue Plan to combat COVID-19 across the country. Rural clinics and hospitals will receive nearly $1 billion dollars to strengthen COVID-19 response efforts and increase vaccinations in rural communities, and approximately $250 million will be awarded to develop and support a community-based workforce who will serve as trusted voices sharing information about vaccines, work to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence, and address any barriers to vaccination for individuals living in vulnerable and medically underserved communities.
The HHS press release on rural clinics and hospitals funding can be found here. Visit: https://www.hhsgov/about/news/2021/05/04/hhs-announces-nearly-1-billion-from-american-rescue-plan-for-rural-covid-19-response.html
The HHS press release on community-based workforce funding can be found here.
Join the We Can Do This Community Corps: Help in the fight against COVID-19 by encouraging family, friends, and your community to get vaccinated. Join the Community Corps to get tips, tools and resources to share. See https://wecandothis.hhs.gov/covidcommunitycorps
For more information, please contact us: Partnership@cms.hhs.gov
CMS Expanding Efforts to Grow COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence and Uptake Amongst Nation’s Most Vulnerable
CMS Builds on Whole-of-Government COVID-19 Response with Vaccination Education, Offering, and Reporting
As part of the ongoing response to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to improve health care access and reduce the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, CMS issued a rule that will ensure long-term care facilities, and residential facilities serving clients with intellectual disabilities, educate and offer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents, clients, and staff. These requirements apply to Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICFs-IID) and align with existing requirements for influenza and pneumococcal vaccines in LTC facilities.
The rule also requires LTC facilities to report weekly COVID-19 vaccination status data for both residents and staff. The new vaccination reporting requirement will not only assist in monitoring uptake amongst residents and staff but will also aid in identifying facilities that may be in need of additional resources and/or assistance to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These new requirements reinforce CMS’ commitment of ensuring equitable vaccine access for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Dr. Lee Fleisher, MD, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ). “Today’s announcement directly aids nursing home residents and people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Our goal is to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and acceptance among these individuals and the staff who serve them.”
To ensure LTC facilities receive support for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, they are now required to report weekly vaccination data of residents and staff to the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the nation’s most widely used health care-associated infection tracking system. LTC facilities are already required to report COVID-19 testing, case, and mortality data to the NHSN for residents and staff but have not been required to report vaccination data. As data becomes available, CMS will post facility-specific vaccination status information reported to the NHSN for viewing by facilities, stakeholders, and the public on CMS’ COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.
While this announcement is specific to LTC facilities and ICFs-IID, CMS is also seeking comment on opportunities to expand these policies to help encourage vaccine uptake and access in other congregate care settings, such as psychiatric residential treatment facilities, group homes, and assisted living facilities. By requiring vaccine education and offering within LTC facilities and ICFs-IIDs, CMS is improving health care access and reducing the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.