Happy Thursday! Enjoy your NCMS Morning Rounds 

March 4, 2021

NCMS, NC Nurses Association Issue Joint Statement on Marketplace Enrollment

The NCMS and the NC Nurses Association yesterday issued a joint statement aimed at raising awareness about the extension of the enrollment period for healthcare.gov also known as Marketplace insurance coverage, and encouraging those who do not have coverage to explore this option.

Here is the statement, which was sent to media statewide.

As organizations dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians, the NC Medical Society and the NC Nurses Association want to encourage those who are eligible for health insurance coverage through the Marketplace at healthcare.gov to sign up now. The enrollment period has been extended until May 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so there is ample opportunity to explore this option and get crucial access to health care during this uncertain time.

“We know that those who do not have health insurance are less likely to seek out routine, preventive care. Being covered for preventive care – and knowing you can get care when you’re feeling sick — means healthier individuals,” said NCMS President Philip Brown, Jr., MD. “Keeping you out of the emergency department is better for you and for the system as a whole, especially during the pandemic.”

All Marketplace plans cover treatment for pre-existing medical conditions and can’t terminate coverage due to a change in health status, including diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19.

“The pandemic has exacerbated existing problems with access to health care. Many of our fellow North Carolinians cannot get the care they need, and this extension gives some of them a chance to seek out the preventive measures they need to stay healthy,” said NCNA President Dennis A. Taylor, RN, DNP, PhD, ACNP-BC, FCCM. “If you are a patient who qualifies for the Marketplace coverage, I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity. And if you are a healthcare provider, I urge you to make sure your patients know about this extended enrollment period.”

If you do not currently have health insurance, the health care providers in your community encourage you to go to healthcare.gov to consider the affordable options that are right for you and your family before May 15 – for your health!

Don’t Miss this Week’s Power Hour

The next NCMS Foundation’s Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership’s Power Hour, our continuing series of conversations around timely issues, will focus on re-opening our schools for more in-person learning. Join us at noon tomorrow, Friday, March 5, as we discuss the impact of the pandemic on our children’s learning and well-being and the benefits and challenges of returning more children to in-person learning. Register here.

The NCMS recently issued a joint statement with the NC Pediatric Society encouraging the return to in-person instruction as long as the necessary COVID-19 risk mitigation protocols are in place. Read the statement here.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Authorized for Emergency Use

As you probably already are aware, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the third vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease. The EUA allows the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine (Janssen is a pharmaceutical division of Johnson & Johnson) to be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18-years-old and older. This will begin to help alleviate some of the vaccine shortages, with North Carolina receiving a shipment this week of approximately 80,000 doses of the new vaccine. The Janssen vaccine requires only a single dose, and may be stored a regular refrigeration temperatures between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, making it more convenient and accessible for patients and practices.

This vaccine works differently than the previously authorized Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. As the FDA explains, the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is manufactured using a specific type of virus called adenovirus type 26 (Ad26). The vaccine uses Ad26 to deliver a piece of the DNA, or genetic material, that is used to make the distinctive “spike” protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While adenoviruses are a group of viruses that are relatively common, Ad26, which can cause cold symptoms and pink eye, has been modified for the vaccine so that it cannot replicate in the human body to cause illness. After a person receives this vaccine, the body can temporarily make the spike protein, which does not cause disease, but triggers the immune system to learn to react defensively, producing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.

The available safety data to support the EUA include an analysis of 43,783 participants enrolled in an ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled study being conducted in South Africa, certain countries in South America, Mexico, and the U.S. The participants, 21,895 of whom received the vaccine and 21,888 of whom received saline placebo, were followed for a median of eight weeks after vaccination. The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.

Overall, the vaccine was approximately 67 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 14 days after vaccination and 66 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 28 days after vaccination.

At this time, data are not available to determine how long the vaccine will provide protection, nor is there evidence that the vaccine prevents transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from person to person.

Learn more about this vaccine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

In the News

Just How Likely Are You To Catch The Coronavirus Twice? Here’s What New Research Reveals, Advisory Board, 3-2-21

Learning Opportunity

Transforming Public Health Through Leadership, Justice and Racial Healing, March 12, 1-2:15 p.m.
This session will feature state and local health officials discussing how they managed multiple crises over the past year during heightened government mistrust while steadfastly working to accomplish their agencies’ missions. National change agent Gail Christopher will facilitate this conversation on how public health agencies can support efforts that move the country towards racial healing.

Learn more and register here.

If you have policies you’d like your NCMS Board of Directors to consider, please complete the Board input form here. Thanks for reading!