Enjoy your Thursday NCMS Morning Rounds.

Jan. 28, 2021

Be Aware of Which COVID-19 Vaccine Syringe Is Used

For those who are administering the COVID-19 vaccine, the number of doses available in each vial may depend on the type of syringe used. If a specialty syringe called a low-dead volume syringe is used, an extra dose can be squeezed out of a vial of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

NCMS Board member Holly Biola, MD, MPH, FAAFP, offered her own experience:

“Last weekend we were sad to only get 10 doses out of each Moderna vial for the first half of the day, and then magically 11 doses from each vial later on. One of our colleagues solved the mystery by telling us she’d heard about “low dead space” syringes on a state COVID call. It turns out that the syringes that come with the vaccine are “low dead space syringes,” and the syringes we’d been using for the first few hours had been from our own stock. Turns out this makes that much difference.”

The FDA had noted this in the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) fact sheet for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, stating: “After dilution, vials of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine contain six doses of 0.3mL of vaccine. Low dead-volume syringes and/or needles can be used to extract six doses from a single vial. If standard syringes and needles are used, there may not be sufficient volume to extract a sixth dose from a single vial.”

A recent article from Reuters also notes that this is a specialty syringe and its manufacturer will have to ramp up production to help ensure no vaccine is wasted.

“Syringe maker Becton Dickinson has contracted with the U.S. government to provide 286 million syringes for use with COVID-19 vaccines, including around 40 million low dead space syringes, and is fully prepared to deliver on that agreement, said Troy Kirkpatrick, the company’s senior director of public relations,” the article states. “Low dead space syringes are a niche product and Becton Dickinson had not discussed plans with the U.S. government to substantially boost their output when they began preparing for the vaccine rollout last year, he said.”

Read the full article here.

Public Health Emergency Likely Will Extend Through 2021

In a letter to Governors, the Acting Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Norris Cochran, IV, told each state leader that the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration will likely remain in place for the rest of 2021. He also assured the governors that when a decision is made to terminate the declaration, HHS will give states 60 days advance notice.

“Predictability and stability are important given the foundation and flexibilities offered to states that are tied to the designation of the PHE,” the letter states. “Among other things, the PHE determination provides for the ability to streamline and increase the accessibility of health care, such as the practice of telemedicine.”

Other allowances under a PHE include waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and HIPAA rules and requirements. The hope, as noted in the letter, is provide “increased budgetary stability and predictability during this challenging time.”

Read the letter here.

NCMS Members-Only COVID-19 Educational Event on Feb. 4

NCMS members should have received an email invitation with details about a special educational session with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals’ Global Vaccine Medical Director on the science behind the COVID-19 vaccine. This members-only event will be held next Thursday, Feb. 4 from 6 to 7 p.m. Be sure to check your email for more information and the registration link. The email should be in your inbox for Tuesday, Jan. 26 around 7 p.m.

Forgot to renew your NCMS membership for 2021? It’s not too late! Click here to renew. Want to become a member of the state’s oldest professional society? Learn more here.

In the News

Moderna Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine Protects Against New UK and South African Variants But Plans To Test New Booster Shot, News Leader, 1-25-21

Learning Opportunity

COVID-19 Action in the Biden Era: A Fireside Chat with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Tuesday, Feb. 9, noon to 1 pm.
A discussion between Dr. Fauci and the co-chairs of the COVID Collaborative, former Governors Deval Patrick (D-MA) and Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID). This will be one of Dr. Fauci’s first appearances as the Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden, and he will answer questions about how the new administration is approaching the crisis. After the initial discussion, there will be a moderated Q&A during which time you can ask Dr. Fauci questions through the chat function.

To RSVP, please visit this link.

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