Panhandle Health answers COVID vaccine questions

Panhandle Health District put together the following document to help address questions received from the community regarding the Vaccine Administration Transparency Data that was recently published by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW).

Where is the vaccine supply coming from?

Vaccines are supplied by the State of Idaho to Panhandle Health District for distribution to enrolled providers or vaccines can be direct shipped to enrolled providers. At this time, our enrolled providers are choosing to have PHD receive the vaccine until they request it. There are Federal programs that don’t involve the state supply. The current vaccine supply is limited and requires special cold storage and handling.

How does vaccine distribution work in north Idaho?

Panhandle Health District distributes vaccine to over a dozen enrolled vaccine providers throughout the five northern counties each week. Vaccine providers submit a request for the number of doses they would like to receive and then PHD arranges delivery or for the provider to pick-up at PHD’s distribution center.

Who are the enrolled providers in the Panhandle Health District area?

  • Panhandle Health District
  • Kootenai Health
  • Northwest Specialty Hospital
  • Bonner General Health
  • Kootenai County EMS System
  • Heritage Health
  • Benewah Community Hospital
  • Kaniksu Health
  • Sandpoint Family Health Center
  • Safeway CDA
  • Boundary Community Hospital
  • Sandpoint Super Drug
  • White Cross Pharmacy
  • Medicine Man Boundary
  • Shoshone Medical Center
  • North Idaho Advanced Care Hospital
  • Kootenai Tribal Clinic

Why does PHD not have ALL enrolled providers listed on their enrolled provider list?
Some enrolled providers have chosen not to be listed as a weekly vaccine administration site. Some of the pharmacies are involved in the Federal program and do not receive vaccine from the state supply. The Federal program is separate from PHD’s vaccine distribution and therefore we are not always privy to that information.

Why does PHD have vaccine doses that are not distributed?
It’s important to keep in mind that the number of doses reported on the states site include second doses, which are earmarked for those who have received their first dose already. Some weeks PHD has received these 2nd doses 1-3 weeks in advance, so even though they show up in our inventory as not administered they are spoken for. It’s also important to note that PHD receives shipments of vaccine that are distributed to over a dozen enrolled providers in our area. As each provider is setting up, preparing for, and scheduling appointments for their vaccine clinics, they rely on us to store their shipments until they are ready to administer.

As the vaccine shipments our district has received have varied, as far as number of doses, we have often needed to quickly scale our clinics up or down accordingly while also distributing the vaccine equitably among the five northern counties.

For the first dose vaccine clinics that PHD hosts, we receive the vaccine the week prior to the clinic where it will be administered. For our second dose clinics, we have been receiving those shipments anywhere from 1-3 weeks in advance of it being needed to be administered.

What is the Pharmacy Partnership Program and the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership? Is PHD involved?

PHD is not involved in the Pharmacy Partnership Program or the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership.

The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care (LTC) Program is facilitating on-site vaccination of residents and staff at more than 70,000 enrolled long-term care facilities (LTCFs) while reducing the burden on LTCF administrators, clinical leadership, and health departments. At no cost to facilities, the program provides end-to-end management of the COVID-19 vaccination process, including cold chain management, on-site vaccinations, and fulfillment of reporting requirements. LTCF staff can also be vaccinated as part of the program. This program is being implemented in close coordination with jurisdictions; LTCFs; federal partners, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); and professional organizations, including American Health Care Association (AHCA) and Leading Age, which include members across both nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination is a collaboration between the federal government, states and territories, and 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks to increase access to COVID-19 vaccination across the United States. This program is one component of the Federal government’s strategy to expand access to vaccines for the American public. The program is being implemented incrementally based on the available vaccine supply, with select retail pharmacy locations providing COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals. As vaccine availability increases over time, the program will expand to ultimately include all 40,000+ pharmacies.

If you have questions about COVID-19 in our area, call PHD’s COVID-19 hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-415-5225.