HHS Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs COVID-19 Update for October 13, 2022

October 14, 2022

HHS Office of Intergovernmental and External affairs COVID-19 Update


Please read the full remarks here.

Dr. Jha: Dr. Jha emphasized the importance of getting the updated bivalent vaccines ahead of winter stating, “If you are up to date with your vaccines and if you get treated, if you have a breakthrough infection, your risk of dying from COVID is now close to zero.”


Updated COVID-19 Vaccines Providing Protection Against Omicron Variant Available at No Cost

October 7, 2022

Updated COVID-19 Vaccines Providing Protection Against Omicron Variant Available at No Cost

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has announced that people with Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage, private insurance coverage, or no health coverage can get COVID-19 vaccines, including the updated (bivalent) Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, at no cost, for as long as the federal government continues purchasing and distributing these COVID-19 vaccines. Updated COVID-19 boosters add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the current vaccine composition, helping to restore protection that has diminished since previous vaccination by targeting variants that are more transmissible and immune-evading.

The boosters are authorized for use per the following:

  • Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent authorized for use in people ages 18 years and older.
  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent authorized for use in people ages 12 years and older.

Authorized as single booster dose administered at least 2 months after either:

  • Completion of primary vaccination with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine, or
  • Receipt of the most recent booster dose with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine.

Link to full News Alert

The CMS Office of Minority Health Director Dr. LaShawn McIver participated in a livestream forum with BlackDoctors.Org on October 4 to answer questions about vaccines including the newly updated COVID-19 vaccine.

Helpful Resources

Health and Human Services Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (HHSIEA)

Date: 10/03/2022

HSS COVID-19 Update


White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy met with health system and hospital leaders to discuss the importance of acting aggressively this fall to protect their patients, health care workers, and communities from COVID-19 and the flu. The discussion focused on steps hospitals and health systems can take to help ensure all Americans, including health care workers, get their updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall, and encourage people to get tested and seek treatment when they get sick—steps that will save lives, reduce burden on the health care system, minimize disruptions to daily life, and help the U.S. effectively manage COVID-19.


Evusheld: FDA added important information to the authorized Fact Sheets for Evusheld (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab) to inform health care providers and individuals receiving Evusheld of the increased risk for developing COVID-19 when exposed to variants of SARS-CoV-2 that are not neutralized by Evusheld. Detailed neutralization data can be found in the revised authorized Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers. Health care professionals should inform patients of this risk and advise patients who develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 to test for SARS-CoV-2 infection and promptly seek medical attention, including starting treatment for COVID-19, as appropriate if they test positive.


Exploring a New Approach to Universal Vaccines Against COVID-19: NIH published a news story on a new approach to universal vaccines against COVID-19. Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are exploring a different idea for vaccines. Instead of focusing on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, they are studying the virus’s nucleocapsid (N) protein, which rarely mutates. The N protein could be the key to creating a future universal vaccine to fight emerging variants. NIAID researchers found that N proteins produced by cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 neutralize multiple chemokines. Chemokines are substances produced in response to an infection or injury, and they attract white blood cells to the area. When N proteins bind to chemokines, this binding weakens the body’s immune response. Without white blood cells to kill virus-infected cells, the virus keeps multiplying and infecting more cells. Until now, most scientists thought that N proteins stayed inside a cell infected by SARS-CoV-2. But the NIAID researchers discovered that up to 100,000 copies of the N protein stud the surface of a single infected cell. In addition, N proteins on an infected cell can spread to uninfected neighboring cells so that they lose immune protection.

HHS Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs

September 29,2022

White House Convening on American Rescue Plan Community Health Workforce Investments

The White House invites you to attend a virtual convening on Friday, September 30, 2022 at 10:00 AM ET to highlight the American Rescue Plan’s historic investments in the community health workforce.

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the Biden-Harris Administration has made the largest one-time investment in the community health workforce, which is deploying tens of thousands of people over the coming years into underserved communities to address health disparities, COVID-19, and other health needs exacerbated by the pandemic. These efforts include training and deploying Community Health Workers – an evidence-based, cost-effective intervention to improve population health and strengthen health systems.

Date: Friday, September 30th
Time: 10:00 AM ET
Register for the briefing here

This event will feature Biden-Harris Administration officials, members of Congress, local elected officials, community-based organizations, and workers, including:

  • Gene Sperling, White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator and Senior Advisor to the President
  • Carole Johnson, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration
  • U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
  • Congressman David Trone (MD-06)
  • Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot

Sensory Inclusive Pop-Up Vaccination Events For People With Developmental Disabilities

Date: September 8, 2022

Sensory inclusive pop-up vaccination events for people with developmental disabilities

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Missourians with sensory needs are invited to receive vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccination, at sensory inclusive pop-up events in partnership with 10 local public health agencies and pharmacies throughout Missouri beginning next week.

The following sensory inclusive pop-up vaccination events are scheduled include:

  • Hayti event hosted by Pemiscot County Health Department
    • September 12 (morning) – Pemiscot County Health Department at 810 East Reed Street, Hayti
  • Cape Girardeau event hosted by Cape Girardeau County Health Department
    • September 12 (2:00 PM-4:00 PM) – Cape Girardeau County Health Department at 121 Linden Street, Cape Girardeau
  • Berkeley event hosted by St. Louis County Health Department
    • September 13 (9:00 AM-1:00 PM) – John C. Murphy Health Center at 6121 North Hanley Road, Berkeley
  • Cuba event hosted by Towne Pharmacy
    • September 14 (9:00 AM-11:00 AM) – Towne Pharmacy at 200 North Franklin Street, Cuba
  • Rolla event hosted by Sink’s Select Pharmacy
    • September 14 (2:00 PM-5:00 PM) – Sink’s Select Pharmacy  at 1100 S. Bishop Avenue, Rolla
  • Springfield event hosted by Springfield-Greene County Health Department
    • September 15 (9:00 AM-11:00 AM) – Westside Public Health Center at 660 South Scenic Avenue, Springfield
  • Stockton event hosted by Evan’s Drug and Zumwalt Pharmacy
    • September 15 (3:00 PM-5:00 PM) – Evan’s Drug at 19 Public Square, Stockton
  • Sedalia event hosted by Summer’s Pharmacy
    • September 16 (9:00 AM-11:00 AM) – Summer’s Pharmacy at 3400 West Broadway Boulevard, Sedalia
  • Warrensburg event hosted by Summer’s Pharmacy
    • September 16 (2:00 PM-5:00 PM) – Summer’s Pharmacy at 61 Burkarth Road, Warrensburg
  • Independence event hosted by Independence Health Department
    • September 17 (9:00 AM-12:00 PM) – Independence City Hall at 111 East Maple Avenue, Independence

“We are excited to partner with KultureCity to bring this sensory inclusive vaccination opportunity to Missouri,” says Vicky Davidson, executive director for the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council, “Each vaccination event will have a mobile sensory space available and Sensory Inclusive Medical Training of vaccinators and medical professionals.”

Currently in the United States today, one in six individuals has a sensory processing need. Due to the increasing numbers of individuals diagnosed with sensory needs, it is important that vaccination environments exist where individuals feel regulated and are able to tolerate a vaccination to the best of their ability. KultureCity is an organization dedicated to creating sensory accessibility and inclusion to events and experiences.

KultureCity’s sensory activation vehicle (S.A.V.E) brings a mobile sensory experience to any event that lacks a physical space for a dedicated sensory room. From outdoor events like concerts and baseball games to indoor events like exhibitions and conferences, the S.A.V.E ensures that all guests can be included in all events.

The S.A.V.E. makes events accessible for all with the following features:

  • Designed to bring sensory relief to locations that do not have interior physical space for a sensory room.
  • Provides a quick sensory refuge for those with sensory needs.
  • Enables them to get a quick break and then go back to enjoying the event.
  • Enables families to attend these events together with their loved ones with sensory needs.

Funding for the sensory inclusive vaccinations events is provided by the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, UMKC Institute for Human Development, and Missouri Protection and Advocacy.

As part of the partnership, KultureCity’s Sensory Inclusive Medical training to Missouri’s state vaccinators free of charge to expand sensory accessibility and support for medical professionals.

The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council is a federally funded 23-member consumer-driven council appointed by the Governor. Its mandate under P.L. 106-402, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, is to assure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration in all aspects of community life. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.moddcouncil.org.

$10 million in ARPA funding for Missouri residential care and assisted living facilities

Date: September 1, 2022

$10 million in ARPA funding for Missouri residential care and assisted living facilities

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Missouri residential care and assisted living facilities licensed with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) are now eligible for reimbursement for COVID-19-related expenses through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). $10 million of this federal funding has been allocated for reimbursement.

Providers may seek reimbursement for expenses incurred and/or business interruption costs directly related to preparing, preventing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will compensate expenses incurred between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. Expenses eligible for reimbursement include:

  • Payroll costs.
  • Training and orientation.
  • Operational supplies.

“Missouri’s residential care and assisted living facilities had some of the most challenging situations to navigate throughout the pandemic, from infection control management to workforce and equipment shortages,” said Paula Nickelson, DHSS acting director. “This reimbursement opportunity will allow facilities to recover from the unprecedented challenges the past two and a half years have presented so they can focus on providing care to some of Missouri’s most vulnerable.”

DHSS created two portal guidance documents to assist operators with registering online and navigating the portal. Operators will need to register on the MO ARPA portal before they can apply. An application checklist and FAQs can be found on moarpa.mo.gov.

New COVID-19 Boosters Targeting Currently Circulating Strains Becoming Available in Missouri

Date: September 2, 2022

New COVID-19 Boosters Targeting Currently Circulating Strains Becoming Available in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Bivalent COVID-19 boosters are becoming available among some providers in Missouri beginning as early as today with additional providers adding these boosters to their inventory next week. A list of providers who pre-ordered these booster doses is available at MOStopsCovid.com.

On September 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendations for use of updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech for people ages 12 years and older and from Moderna for people ages 18 years and older.

The Moderna and Pfizer bivalent boosters both target two strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 – the original strain of the virus and two of the Omicron subvariants (BA.4 and BA.5), which are currently the most widespread variants globally. Only individuals who have completed their primary vaccination series (two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson) are eligible to receive the bivalent booster. Those who have recently received Novavax are not yet eligible for any booster at this time.

“We encourage those who are eligible to receive this new booster dose as it will greatly help protect individuals from the variant most commonly detected today and for the past several months,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. George Turabelidze with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). “As we head into the fall and winter months, this added protection becomes even more important since viruses generally tend to circulate at a more rapid pace during this time.”

In the coming weeks, CDC also expects to recommend updated COVID-19 boosters for other pediatric groups, per yesterday’s discussion and evaluation of the data by ACIP. When data is available and FDA authorizes these other types of COVID-19 boosters and CDC provides use recommendations, the CDC and DHSS will work to quickly make them available in Missouri with the help of COVID-19 vaccinators throughout the state.

If you have not been vaccinated or have not completed your primary series, visit MOStopsCovid.com to find a location offering vaccines. The original formulations of Pfizer, Moderna, J&J and Novavax will continue to be used. Booster doses use reduced amounts of the original vaccines.

Individuals are eligible for the bivalent booster two months since their last primary or booster dose of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. The previous monovalent booster will no longer be available to persons 12 and older; the FDA is removing authorization for those boosters to reduce provider confusion for staff administering vaccines.

The Pfizer bivalent booster is currently authorized for ages 12 and older while Moderna’s is currently authorized for 18 years of age and older. Individuals may choose to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster, regardless of which primary series vaccine or original booster dose they had previously.

For the latest information on bivalent boosters, visit MOStopsCovid.com.

Free COVID-19 Therapeutics Now Available

Date: July 18, 2022

All Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)-certified Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) may now enroll in the Health Resources and Services (HRSA) RHC COVID-19 Therapeutics Program to receive a direct supply of free COVID-19 Antivirals.

This program provides RHCs with access to COVID-19 therapeutics, Paxlovid and Lagevrio (Molnupiravir), shipped directly to RHCs. With the increase in COVID-19 due to new variants, the National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) encourage all RHCs to enroll in all HRSA COVID Programs to ensure COVID-19 tests, therapeutics, and vaccines remain available for your patients.

To be eligible for the RHC COVID-19 Therapeutics Program, your clinic must have a formal relationship with an onsite or offsite pharmacy and/or your RHC and state guidelines must allow your medical providers to prescribe and dispense medication at point of care. COVID-19 therapeutics can be shipped directly to your RHC or that pharmacy with which your RHC has a formal relationship. 

If your RHC is already enrolled in the HRSA RHC COVID-19 Testing Supply Program and/or the RHC COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Program, you are already familiar with the Health Partner Ordering Portal (HPOP). By enrolling in the Therapeutics Program, your RHC will gain access to the therapeutics module (TPOP) in HPOP to directly place orders. If your RHC is not yet enrolled in these programs, that is okay too! Please visit the Therapeutics Program page on NARHC.org to review enrollment instructions.

With the addition of this program, your RHC may also become a recognized ASPR Test to Treat site. Your RHC can utilize free testing supplies through the HRSA RHC COVID-19 Testing Supply Program, and treat patients as needed with the therapeutics distributed through the new RHC COVID-19 Therapeutics Program. Once your RHC is enrolled in both programs and has placed your first therapeutics order, email RHCTreatment@hrsa.gov to be formally recognized as a Test to Treat site! Visit the COVID-19 Test to Treat Locator to find participating sites. 

Please visit NARHC.org for program FAQs, or email NARHC with any questions at rhccovidsupplies@narhc.org.


COVID-19 Therapeutics Webinar with the U.S. Surgeon General

Date: June 22, 2022

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) remains committed to distributing vaccines and therapeutics for free to communities across the country. While vaccines still remain the best way out of the pandemic, there are therapeutics, both pre-treatment and treatments, available that can help those at highest risk. It’s not only critical that health care providers are aware of and understand the eligibility criteria for prescribing these medications, but it’s also imperative that potential patients are armed with the right information that can help quickly connect them with these critical drugs.

Join the U.S. Surgeon general along with subject matter experts from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) for a webinar and interactive discussion on the current COVID-19 therapeutics landscape and opportunities for increased outreach and education across providers and consumers. HHS encourages members from patient advocacy groups as well as clinicians to join this important call.
What: Discussion with the U.S. Surgeon General on COVID-19 Therapeutics
Date: Thursday, June 23, 2022
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM ET

Register Here

Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General
Dr. Meg Sullivan, ASPR Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Meghan Pennini, ASPR Therapeutics Director
Dr. Michael Anderson, ASPR Senior Advisor
Dr. Derek Eisnor, ASPR/BARDA Medical