In the News

Pfizer says immunity can drop to 84% within four months in people who got its COVID-19 shot, further bolstering the company case for a booster

Market Watch/ By Jaimy Lee

The drug maker said this week that new data shows effectiveness can decline to about 83.7% four to six months after vaccination

The effectiveness of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot can drop to 83.7% within four to six months after getting the second dose of its vaccine. This is the latest indication that vaccine-induced immunity to the virus can wane and some kind of boost may be necessary in the future.

New research published Wednesday as a preprint indicates that the Pfizer Inc.  shot provides 96.2% protection for the first two months, 90.1% effectiveness between the second and fourth months, and between 83.7% of protection for the fourth, fifth, and six months. 

“We will need a booster eight to 12 months from the second dose,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Wednesday, according to a FactSet transcript of the company’s second-quarter earnings call. 

The drug maker has been making the case for booster shots, citing limited data from its own clinical research and real-world data out of Israel, where Pfizer’s vaccine is the predominant shot in circulation.  “We do see—after six to eight months—more rapid waning concerning infections and mild to moderate symptoms,” Dr. Mikhail Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, said during the call. “Those are likely entirely, or to a large degree, dependent on antibodies and the drop in titer that we alluded to. If you raise it, you may have a good probability to reverse that waning.”

Still, there’s no simple black-and-white answer to whether booster shots are needed at this time. One, there is no definitive data. The new Pfizer data is the most detailed so far, though the company plans to submit clinical data for a third dose to the Food and Drug Administration in early August.

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Health Care Associations Call for Vaccine Mandate as Threat of the Delta Variant Grows

Home Health Care News / By Joyce Famakinwa | July 27, 2021
A number of major medical groups and senior services associations have joined forces to call for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all health and long-term care workers. This national push for a mandate comes at a time when a new and more infectious strain of coronavirus — the Delta variant — is making the news.
“The Delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a briefing Thursday. “It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen, in my 20-year career.”
Almost 60 organizations, including LeadingAge, stated in a joint letter this week that vaccinations are a natural extension of health care workers’ overall commitment to ensuring the well-being of long-term care recipients.
While providers have increased efforts around vaccination for staff and seniors, there is more that needs to be done, according to Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge.
“As COVID-19 variants emerge and proliferate, we can start saving more lives today by ensuring staff are fully vaccinated,” she said in a separate press release. “The association encouraged members to make vaccines a condition of employment for all health care workers … with appropriate exemptions for those with medical reasons or as specified by federal or state law. The statement emphasized that the vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in preventing infection, reducing the spread of the virus and the chance of serious illness or death.”
Washington, D.C.-based LeadingAge is an association of nonprofit aging services providers.
Aside from LeadingAge, the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association are among the other organizations that signed the letter.
Notably absent from the list are the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), two of the leading home-based care groups in the U.S.
NAHC, in particular, has spoken out against false reports that claimed their organization had joined in the push for mandatory vaccination.
While the organization encourages people to get vaccinated, it also emphasized its belief that health care providers need to be able to decide how best to serve the interests of their patients and respect the sensitivities of its employees, according to a NAHC statement sent to Home Health Care News.

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Take Action on the “Choose Home Act”

GO HERE to tell Congress to support Choose Home Care Act of 2021

Home care has long been a safe and effective alternative to care in an institutional setting. Medicare reform to provide viable, extended care services at home for patients who otherwise have only one choice, the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) benefit, is long overdue.

The risks and limitations of SNFs has been vividly demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the pandemic crisis, extended care at home also makes sense. Nearly 33% of patients who go to SNFs have identical frailty scores to those who receive care at home. The main difference in these patients is that they lack access to extended caregiver services and certain other supplemental health care supports.

The likely best chance for a vote on the bill will be in the reconciliation infrastructure package. Sources are predicting that the package will come together for a vote in the fall. In the meantime, we need to build as much support as possible for the Choose Home Care Act so that it’s well positioned when negotiations begin in earnest. As can be imagined, there is strong opposition from the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the group representing Skilled Nursing Facilities, and from the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL). Every bit of support we can get will be key to overcoming their opposition.

With the bill being introduced in the Senate only at this point, there is a heavy focus there to start. Please reach out to our Senators and urge their support for the legislation. Calls, personal messages, and in-person interactions (if safely available) are always the most effective, but the NAHC Legislative Action Center is also ready with a pre-drafted message that only requires your contact information. Within that link are supporting materials with additional information including a factsheet and FAQs.

Important details

Bill: Choose Home Care Act of 2021 (S. 2562)

Senate sponsors: Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Todd Young (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Casey (D-PA), James Lankford (R-OK), Ben Cardin (D-MD) Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)

Additional Supporting Organizations: Partnership for Quality Home Health Care, AARP, LeadingAge, Allies for Independence, National Council on Aging, Moving Health Home, Council of State Home Care and Hospice Associations, Forum of State Associations.

Additional Resources

  • To view the PQHH/NAHC press release, CLICK HERE.
  • To send an email to your Senators urging support for the bill and to submit a letter to the editor to your local paper about Choose Home, CLICK HERE.
  • To access suggested social media posts and graphics, CLICK HERE.

Choose Home Care Act Introduced

Home Care Magazine
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 29, 2021)—The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH) today commended the introduction of the Choose Home Care Act of 2021. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Todd Young (R-IN) and endorsed by the AARP, is designed to increase access to care at home by providing eligible Medicare beneficiaries with an additional care option following hospitalization—an important Medicare policy change that will strengthen and modernize the program by offering beneficiaries a safe, high-quality post-acute option for nursing home level services provided in the home.
Original co-sponsors on the bill include Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and James Lankford (R-OH).
If enacted, the Choose Home Care Act would enable eligible Medicare patients (as determined by a carefully controlled assessment tool) to receive extended care services as an add-on to the existing Medicare Home Health benefit for 30 days post-discharge. The Choose Home Care Act would help seriously ill individuals to recover safely at home, increase patient and family satisfaction, and significantly reduce the risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or other infectious diseases. The act also saves the Medicare Trust Fund in avoided nursing home costs for a percentage of patients who are able to receive nursing home level care in the home.
“The Choose Home Care Act represents a tremendous step forward for Medicare beneficiaries who would prefer to recover at home, but have been previously prevented from doing so under current policy restrictions,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi in a statement. “Given the many benefits of accessing health care and support services at home, as well as the importance of protecting vulnerable patients from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, this must-pass legislation would go a long way to improve seniors’ health in a safe, cost-effective way. Thanks to the leadership of Sens. Stabenow and Young, we are one step closer to achieving that goal.” 

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CDC Updates Mask Guidance

CNN has reported, "To prevent further spread of the Delta variant, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on Tuesday to recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas with "substantial" and "high" transmission of COVID-19, which includes nearly two-thirds of all US counties. New unpublished data showing that vaccinated people infected with the Delta coronavirus variant can have as much virus as those who are unvaccinated is the primary driver for the CDC's latest mask guidance change, a source involved with the decision process told CNN. Overall, vaccinated people still play a small role in transmission and breakthrough infections are rare."

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