February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Area Agencies on Aging and Vaccination Efforts – Amy Gotwals (n4a)

Amy Gotwals, Chief of Public Policy and External Affairs with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), provided a presentation on the work of the association’s members and discussed how they could assist with COVID vaccination efforts. This national membership organization was established in 1965 as part of the Older Americans Act. Although member groups may go by slightly different names (i.e., not just an “area agency on aging”/AAA), they are part of a broad network providing services largely to those who are 60 and older, as well as some targeted services to frail and vulnerable populations.  Currently n4a agencies are located in 43 states. The majority (39%) operate as independent nonprofit agencies.

The AAAs offer a wide range of long-term services and supports and help tie local partners together. Their five core services relate to elder rights, caregivers, nutrition, health and wellness, and supportive services such as in-home services and transportation. These often provide an alternative to institutional care.

Of specific interest for COVID vaccine delivery, the agencies offer local hotlines to connect callers (who often are elderly) to available services and benefits in their communities.

Amy emphasized that the AAAs are strong partners who are ready to assist with COVID-19 vaccination efforts in older adults.  Many of the services they already provide could be supplemental to existing public health activities. For example, the agencies can help their populations navigate online systems, offer transportation, and help combat vaccine hesitancy. When feasible, their locations can serve as vaccine clinic locations. To highlight some of the activities already being done, Amy reviewed a few specific examples of AAA activities in various states around the country. Congress is currently reviewing emergency funding that will be shared with AAAs to help with their vaccine efforts.

Amy concluded her presentation by re-emphasizing that AAAs could be great partners in vaccination efforts and encouraged public health partners to reach out to their local agencies for assistance. Carolyn Bridges noted that approximately 21% of people on Medicare and homebound, and approximately 25% of people older than 65 don’t have a computer or internet access. AAAs could be of great help in both areas of need.

Overview of February NVAC Meeting – Ann Aiken (NVPO)

Ann Aiken, with the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO), provided a summary of the presentations from the February 4–5 meeting of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC).

Topics covered by the group included an extensive panel discussion on dealing with fear of needles and how that impacts vaccine compliance. NVAC members also discussed interventions and guidelines for reducing vaccination pain.  The Vaccine Confidence Subcommittee summarized the current work of their group, and this was followed by an introduction to a new Vaccine Confidence Consults strategy.

The group discussed vaccine acceptance rates among nursing home residents and staff members and acknowledged that a significant proportion of staff had refused the vaccine. The first day of the meeting concluded with an exploration of the incentives and disincentives for COVID-19 vaccination.

On the second day of the meeting, NVAC reviewed COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring. In addition, the group heard a report on immunization equity and building trust in the population. Ann highly recommended that partners review the Trust for America’s Health recently released report, Building Trust in and Access to a COVID-19 Vaccine Within Communities of Color and Tribal Nations.

The meeting concluded with a presentation from David Kim on the National Strategic Plan for Vaccines 2021–2025.

Presentations and video from the meeting will be online soon. In the meantime, Ann said Summit members could contact her if anyone needed a specific presentation before it is officially posted.

  • IAC Webinar – IAC is sponsoring a webinar on vaccine safety monitoring and communications, presented by Dr. Tom Shimabukuro and Janine Cory of CDC. The session will take place on March 4 from 1–2 pm (ET). Additional details and registration information are available online.
  • Next Summit call – The Summit partners will not meet next Thursday, February 25, due to a conflict with the ACIP meeting. The next Summit call will take place on Thursday, March 4 at 3 pm ET.
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