Operation Warp Speed is developing a cooperative plan for centralized vaccine distribution to be executed in phases by the federal government with the cooperation of all 50 states, territories, tribes, industry partners and other entities.
Partnerships involving the federal government and state/local jurisdictions will allocate and distribute vaccines along with direct distribution to commercial partners. McKesson Drug Corp. will act as central distributor during Phase 1 with potential back-up distributors enlisted as needed to meet storage and handling requirements. CVS and Walgreens have been announced as retail partners for the Phase 1 distribution that targets LTC facilities. Pfizer also has announced that it will directly ship vaccine in freezer containers to mass vaccination sites such as hospitals and LTC facilities.
State Distribution Plans
Partner jurisdictions are developing, with CDC guidance, a State Vaccination Playbook to establish vaccination sites, address logistical needs and onboard each vaccination site into the online tracking system. Jurisdictions also are responsible for enrolling physicians, pharmacies, hospitals and other eligible entities as vaccine providers. Procedures for enrolling as a vaccine provider vary considerably by state. Some states have a clearly defined survey and enrollment process; others do not. Some states allow any eligible provider to enroll, but some states – such as California – do not and instead are identifying and inviting providers to participate. It is important that you understand your state’s process and take all needed steps to enroll by any stated deadline. Please refer to the Resources section for state-specific information.
Vaccine site options will vary depending on the nature of the vaccine and the phase of the vaccination program. During Phase 1, administration sites will be limited to settings that can optimize reaching a prioritized population of health-care workers, first responders and other designated essential workers while meeting the early requirements for cold storage and handling of vaccine product. During Phase 2, the expanded administration network will include adult and pediatric health-care providers and pharmacies.
NOTE: You are eligible to work separately with both a state COVID jurisdiction and a federal network administrator such as GNP/Elevate to receive vaccine distributions. However, you can work with only one federal network administrator.
CDC Requirements for COVID-19 Vaccine Providers
To participate as a COVID-19 vaccine immunizer, you must complete the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement. The form should be available through your state health agency’s website, either on its website or by request.
In addition, you:
- Must have an active NPI/TPI number.
- Must follow ACIP requirements & recommendations.
Must comply with CDC requirements for COVID-19 vaccine management by maintaining adequate storage capacities and the integrity of vaccine cold-chain requirements (Few pharmacies are equipped to handle vaccines with ultra-cold-storage requirements. The Pfizer vaccine, which could be the first to arrive, must be stored at -94 degrees F and has a refrigerated shelf life of 24-48 hours. The Moderna vaccine must be stored at -4 F degrees, but has a refrigerator life of 7 days; most other vaccines undergoing U.S. trials require only refrigeration and can be stored for months.)
- Must report each vaccination within 24 hours to your designated state or local immunization registry.
- Must report all doses received including those administered, lost, wasted, etc.
- Must report any adverse patient event related to receiving the vaccine.
State Requirements for COVID-19 Immunizers
Some states – such as Texas – are requiring immunizers to register specifically as COVID-19 vaccinators. The process is different in each state, but you generally will be required to provide your NPI number, pharmacy license number, ID number for your state vaccination registry and perhaps the separate ID for your childhood vaccination program (if your state issues one). Check the Resources section below for links to state-specific registration sites for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Once you have registered as a COVID-19 immunizer, your state may allow you to “pre-book” vaccine or submit a request to receive vaccine when it is available. NOTE: Distribution of vaccine to independent pharmacies will not take place until Phase 2 of the distribution plan, when vaccines will be available for more general distribution that do not require ultra-cold-storage equipment.
Enrolling as a Medicare Vaccine Provider
If you are registered as a Medicare Provider with billing privileges under Part B, you already are authorized to submit claims to Medicare for administering an authorized COVID-19 vaccine to a Medicare enrollee. If not, you can ENROLL HERE. If you wish to give multiple vaccinations at an LTC facility, local employer or a vaccination event and bill for administering those vaccinations in a bloc, you must register with CMS as a Mass Immunizer so you can use “roster billing” to submit multiple claims in a single batch. (You must complete the Medicare Enrollment Application for Physicians and Non-Physician Providers to do roster billing.)