The New York State Department of Health (DOH) extended this week’s deadline to submit planning requests to the New York State Immunization Information System to Wednesday, May 5, at 12:00 p.m. The change is in anticipation of the US Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in 12- to 15-year-olds. Hospital planning requests entered this week will be reviewed for allocations shipped during the week starting May 10.
DOH asks providers requesting Pfizer vaccine to carefully consider storage timeframes and how quickly they can use the vaccine. Hospitals that do not have an ultra-cold freezer or access to pelletized dry ice should consider their ability to use the full amount of vaccine ordered within two to three weeks, including five days on dry ice, 14 days at standard freezer temperature, and five days at refrigerator temperature. Once thawed, Pfizer vaccine cannot be refrozen and must be used within five days. While there is no longer a monetary penalty for not using all vaccine allocated within seven days, DOH reviews vaccine supply throughput for each vaccine provider to inform its vaccine allocation decisions.
Policy for Pre-Drawn COVID-19 Vaccine
DOH issued a pre-drawn (pre-filled) COVID-19 vaccine policy (attached) for health care providers vaccinating homebound individuals and individuals in nursing homes and adult care facilities. DOH directs vaccine providers to maintain a written record of such pre-drawn syringe policies and procedures and to make this written record available at DOH’s request, including at the time of an inspection.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends transporting COVID-19 vaccines in vials, in cases where the provider determines that the only option is to transport vaccine in pre-drawn syringes, the CDC refers to the pre-drawn syringe labeling, storage, handling, and transport guidance in the US Pharmacopeia COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit: Operational Considerations for Healthcare Practitioners. Vaccine provider policies and procedures should be consistent with CDC recommendations. The DOH guidance emphasizes that providers must ensure that pre-drawn syringes are only used as a last resort when the only option is to transport vaccine in pre-drawn syringes.
For a compilation of recent COVID-19 guidance, including on vaccine distribution, please visit GNYHA’s COVID-19 webpage.