PRITZKER MOVES TO PROTECT THE AS-YET UNVACCINATED: Employees of licensed day care centers in Illinois will now be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested for the virus at least once a week, under an emergency rule issued Friday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Pritzker, joined by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou and Department of Childhood & Family Services Director Marc Smith, announced that more than 55,000 day care center staff statewide will be affected.
“Vaccinations offer life-saving protection for the people who receive them and make the community safer for the people who can’t—including the babies, toddlers and young children not yet eligible for the vaccine,” Pritzker said in a statement. “By extending vaccine-or-test requirements to those who work at licensed day care centers, we are adding another level of protection for our youngest residents and preventing outbreaks in daycare centers as more and more parents return to work.”
All licensed day care center staff in Illinois will be required to receive their first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine by December 3, 2021 and the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series by January 3, 2022. Licensed day care centers are child care facilities licensed by the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services.
A masking requirement for all Pre-K-12 schools and child care facilities has been in effect in Illinois since August 4, the same day Pritzker put in place a vaccine requirement for all state employees who work in the state’s congregate facilities, including individuals at the Illinois Departments of Human Services, Corrections, Veterans Affairs and Juvenile Justice.
PHARMACY COMPANIES ROLL OUT NEW COVID-19 VACCINATION EFFORTS: Walgreens and CVS opened their doors even wider at the end of last week with the FDA authorization and the CDC’s recommendation for booster doses of the Moderna and J&J COVID-19 vaccines.
Moderna’s vaccine booster may be given at least six months after the primary series, to all those 65 years of age and older in long-term care facilities and to those aged 18 to 64 with underlying medical conditions or who live and work in high-risk settings. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine booster is for anyone 18 years of age and older who was vaccinated with a J&J dose two or more months ago.
Deerfield-based Walgreens Boots Alliance said the booster doses were available to those who qualify at its pharmacies nationwide.
“As new guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccines continues to emerge, our communities are relying on pharmacists for information, support and guidance more than ever. Walgreens pharmacy teams are available to answer questions and make it easy to understand eligibility requirements and access COVID-19 vaccine, whether it’s a first dose or booster shot,” Rina Shah, group vice president pharmacy operations and services at Walgreens said in a statement.
The new booster recommendations for Moderna and J&J vaccines follows the previous approval of Pfizer vaccine boosters. And while it is recommended individuals receive the same product for their booster dose as they did for their primary series, if the original product is not available or another product is preferred, mix and matching vaccines with any of the authorized COVID-19 vaccine boosters is allowed.
Rhode Island-based CVS Health said in a statement Friday that select CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations are now offering the Moderna and Pfizer booster shots, including the more than 100 CVS locations across Chicagoland and 400 throughout Illinois.
The Chicago Department of Public Health said Friday that Pfizer and J&J booster shots will be offered at all CDPH pop-up clinics and events, including joint flu-COVID vaccination clinics, and through Protect Chicago At Home, the City’s in-home vaccination program.
The Chicago-based American Medical Association said the new boosters doses will go a long way toward protecting those who need protection from COVID-19.
“The AMA appreciates the efforts undertaken by the CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to recommend a booster dose of the Moderna and J&J COVID-19 vaccines in certain populations and the flexibility for individuals to choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose,” according to a statement from Dr. Susan R. Bailey, AHA immediate past president.
HEALTH CARE COMPANIES AMONG CRAIN’S MOST INNOVATIVE: Among Crain’s list of Most Innovative Companies of 2021, two medical products makers made the Top 10.
Hollister, which has R&D teams and customers scattered around the globe, comes in at #3. While innovation traditionally meant a lot of in-person collaboration, COVID-19 changed all that.
So the company adapted by using virtual-reality cameras and headsets to allow engineers in Chicago, Ireland and Denmark to work remotely with each other and customers, says Paola Wisner, vice president of research and development. “It accelerated our collaboration.”
And, at #7, Sage Products has a long history of innovation, stretching back to sharps containers for needle disposal in the early 1980s.
These days, it’s reinventing the way hospital patients are moved, using inflatable sheets with handles and straps, reducing strain and injuries for staff. Sage also makes self-dispensing, single-use toothbrushes and oral-care products for patients who are unable to brush their own teeth.
“Sage has been consistently filing new patent applications and creating new product categories in patient safety, infection control and preventative care,” says James Malackowski, CEO of Ocean Tomo. READ MORE.
HEALTH COMMISSIONER URGES SUPPORT FOR LIGHTFOOT MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET: Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner, is urging City Council members to support the proposed 2022 mental health budget plan, saying the new investment in the mental health system is historic.
Arwady pointed the city’s work using federal, state, county,and city funds to create a network of trauma-informed centers of care—outpatient clinics that focus on underserved residents and include community clinics, mental health centers, CDPH-operated clinics and federally qualified health centers.
“The results speak for themselves. In 2019, we served about 3,600 people. In the first half of 2021 alone, even during COVID, we have already served more than 26,000 Chicagoans, including many with much more acute mental health needs than ever before. This is many more clients, with a wider range of needs, than the city of Chicago has served in decades, if not ever—and we’re still expanding,” Arwady wrote in a letter to council members.
The 2022 budget plan would invest $86 million in mental health, of which $52 million would be new funding. The mental health plan, along with the rest of the city spending plan, passed out of the City Council’s Budget Committee Friday, including an amendment to add 29 staff to the city’s Department of Public health to work longer hours at the city’s mental health clinics, and to expand services to youth. The full budget is due for a final City Council vote this Wednesday.
“This massive increase is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that builds on the expansions Mayor Lightfoot and City Council have undertaken together. It would result in a seven-fold increase in
mental health funding since 2019, with significant investments in organizations rooted in communities,” the Arwady letter stated.
Among the highlights of the plan are a more than doubling of funding for the trauma-informed centers of care network, a seven-fold increase in funding for the pilot Crisis Assistance Response & Engagement program that integrates mental health professionals in the 911 system and programs designed to divert people with serious mental illness or addiction away from the criminal justice system into treatment and housing.
7WIREVENTURES’ ZERGIO HEALTH GETS $43M IN FUNDING: Zerigo Health closed $43 million Series B financing. The company, which delivers a connected light therapy solution for treating chronic skin conditions, is a portfolio company of 7wireVentures, the company lead by Chicago health care entrepreneur Glen Tullman.
Zergio will use the additional funding to significantly transform treatment options for consumers with chronic skin conditions, the company said in a statement. As part of the Series B investment, Tullman, 7wireVentures’ managing partner Tullman will join as executive chairman of the company’s Board of Directors.
AHA URGES ADMINISTRATION MOVE AHEAD WITH PRIOR AUTHORIZATION RULE: The Chicago-based American Hospital Association is urging the Health & Human Services Department to revise and reissue a prior authorization rule proposed in the final days of the Trump administration.
The rule in question would streamline the documentation process, reduce the amount of time some insurers have to respond to prior authorization requests and require they build programs to receive those requests. While the Biden administration froze implementation of the rule and others proposed by the previous administration, it hasn’t indicated yet if it will move forward with the proposal, Modern Healthcare reports.
In a letter to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, AHA President Stacey Hughes urged the agency to finalize the rule with some changes, citing “administrative and clinical difficulties caused by inefficient prior authorization processes.”
MEDLINE TO CONSULT ON AVOIDING POST-ACUTE CARE INFECTION: Medline has announced the launch of a new consultative program aimed at helping post-acute providers assess infection control needs and create a customized program around hand hygiene, personal protective equipment use and environmental cleaning and disinfecting.
The Northfield-based company’s program starts with an eight-question assessment to obtain insights into the infection challenges present, with Medline working with its customers to create a customized program consisting of best practice guidance, educational resources and high-quality products to improve operational and clinical outcomes, the company said in a statement.
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
• Dr. Caitlin Nicholson has joined the primary care sports medicine section at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. Nicholson specializes in the nonsurgical treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and has a special interest in the care of endurance athletes. During a primary care sports medicine fellowship at Rush University, she served as a team physician for DePaul University, assistant team physician for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Steel. She also served as a medical tent physician at the Chicago Marathon, Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, and Philadelphia Love Run.