COVID-19 Information and Updates

January 25, 2021

Provided by Angela Boyle, MPH and Director of Oral Health

How do the current vaccination timelines pertain to me?

Because vaccine supply is limited in these early phases, the state has a set criterion for receiving a vaccination, and individuals with disabilities are included in the coming phases of distribution. You can learn more about the current phases timeline here, https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/covid19/documents/covid19-vaccine-allocation-plan-summary.pdf.  Much work has already been done to vaccinate our front-line health care workers, first responders and those older adults living in long-term care settings.  As more and more vaccine becomes available over the next few months, people who are medically vulnerable and those who care for them will also be included in the coming phases.

Are vaccines required or do I have to get a vaccine?

There is no federal, state or local mandate to participate in receiving a vaccination.  This is a personal decision and we encourage you to discuss this decision with family and your physician.

How do I know if I or my loved one meets the criteria for receiving the vaccination?

During these early phases, vaccine supply is limited, and therefore the state must categorize populations that have moderate to high risk of either getting the virus from the community or transmitting the virus to others. The initial categories are heavily based on Risk of experiencing significant health consequences and/or hospitalization.  Those on the front-line and other vulnerable populations are in those high-risk categories and have already started to receive their vaccinations. As more and more vaccine is delivered to the state, there will be opportunity to move through the critical phases quicker and expand distribution to more and more people. The state is constantly updating its guidance and information and has developed a robust vaccination plan which can be found on their website here, https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/covid19/documents/covid19-vaccine-allocation-plan-summary.pdf.

 

I provide all the home care for my loved one, why doesn’t that qualify me as a front line worker?

During times of limited vaccine, the state public health officials must consider who is at risk for complications associated with the virus.  In public health, the focus is to target “population risk” and not individual risk. Which population is at most risk of either acquiring it or transmitting is an important component in determining where to put limited resources, especially in the early phases. Protecting our critical health care providers, both licensed and unlicensed, keeps our health care system safe from the inability to provide needed services because of potential workforce shortages related to being ill with the virus.

It’s important to note that anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one.  As more and more doses are distributed to the state, the expansion of populations receiving a vaccine will increase and it will allow for quicker movement through all the phases.

How much will it cost to receive the vaccination?

Because we are in a national state of public health emergency, there is no cost to NH residents for the vaccination. Based on the current manufacturers, a two dose vaccine will be allocated. At this time, we do not know which manufacture will be received.  If in the future, the vaccine is recommended yearly like the “flu vaccination”, there may be a fee.

How safe is the vaccination?

The vaccine is safe. Both makers of the vaccine have followed the same gold standard process that all medications and vaccines must follow in the manufacturing process. Tens of thousands of people across the world that include populations of ethnic and racial backgrounds as well as those with varied medical complexities have been included in the clinical trials. Both vaccine manufacturers (Pfizer and Moderna) have undergone rigorous review and recommendations of the FDA and the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices in order to receive the Emergency Authorization Use permission during this public health emergency.

How does the vaccine work and can it give me COVID-19?

Many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. The Coronavirus vaccination known as “mRNA vaccine” DOES NOT.  Instead, they teach our cells how to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. This protein piece serves as an antigen to trigger an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected when the real virus enters our bodies.

It is expected as with other vaccines to produce side effects after vaccination, especially after the 2nd dose. This is common in many other vaccines as well.  This response is a good indication that the vaccine is building the necessary antibodies to protect you.   These may include fever, headache, and muscle aches. These are similar to side affects you may experience after other adult vaccines like the flu vaccine and the shingles vaccine.  It is unusual for side effects to appear more than 8 weeks after vaccination.

 One advantage of mRNA vaccines is that they are not produced using infectious antigens.  The vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19.  Both vaccines currently available are well-tolerated and the clinical trials did not reveal any significant safety concerns.

 Will the vaccine alter my DNA?

It’s important to note that the mRNA does not enter the cell nucleus, so it does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. This is a common myth about mRNA vaccines. mRNA in COVID-19 vaccine does not interact with DNA.  

Read more information about the COVID-19 vaccine from the NH Division of Public Health Services: Vaccination Frequently Asked Questions

 

Recently, Chief Medical Officer of the NH Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Jonathan Ballard and Deputy State Epidemiologist for the NH DHHS Dr. Elizabeth Talbot spoke with stakeholders in the developmental services system services to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccination process. You can watch the vaccination town hall here, https://csni.org/coronavirus-covid-19.

Learn more about what to expect from NH COVID-19 vaccination sites: https://www.seacoastonline.com/story/news/state/2021/01/25/nh-covid-vaccine-sites-what-to-expect/4246953001/

 

December 8, 2020

It has been a long year. We know that all of your lives have been impacted in so many ways and that we are all looking for the light at the end of this very long tunnel. The prospect of the Vaccine being available in NH is the first sign of light we have had in many months.

There has been tremendous media attention concerning the vaccine and the availability in states. As with everything involved with this virus information changes rapidly, however we thought we would take a moment to tell you what we do know at this time.

Area Agencies have been working closely with the Bureau of Developmental Services as they collect data on numbers of individuals served in the system, families, and Direct Support Front line workers. This information has been gathered to provide an accurate as possible count of how many doses the NH Developmental Disability System will need. This information has been provided to public health at the state leadership level. At this time, NH does not know how many doses will arrive here in the first delivery, which is expected sometime this month.

At Community Crossroads, we have been working closely with our Regional Public Health Network to utilize a Closed Point of Dispensary Site for offering the vaccine to individuals, provider agency staff, & Family Managed Employees. Angela Boyle is coordinating this important project in close coordination with the Regional Public Health Network. Logistics of the location of where this will take place, date/time, and process for registering for the vaccine, have yet to be finalized. As we learn more from the state we will post updated information on our Website and Social Media.

In the meantime we encourage you all to continue your diligence to help reduce the spread of this virus. Maintain social distancing, wear face masks, be diligent about hand washing and avoid gatherings in closed spaces or with people outside of your close social circle.

Reflections of Life in COVID-19

It has been three months since Community Crossroads entered remote operations. The routine rhythms of all our lives changed considerably over that period of time.  We know this is true of all the families, individuals, and partner organizations that we interact with on a daily basis.  It has been alternately, an amazing and worrisome journey.  It has been inspiring to watch our incredibly dedicated employees continue to do their best while dealing with the fears and anxiety of the pandemic, helping at risk family members, home schooling children, or parenting infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, while juggling their job responsibilities.  We have tried hard to maintain virtual connections, but most of us didn’t get involved in human services because we love spending our time glued to the computer screen or with a phone attached to our ears. It is the human connection with one another, visiting in person, meeting together in the common cause of trying to support the over 1,200 individuals and families served by Community Crossroads.  Through it all we have however stayed true to our mission. 

 

The impact on all of us can not be underestimated, but we are grateful beyond measure for our provider partners, their direct support professionals, managers, and directors who we consider among the heroes of essential workers. In the early days for the community residences that saw the first individuals and staff that tested positive and developed symptoms, the impact was enormous. Maneuvering through the new realities of Public Health and requisitioning PPE, added to the complexities of their work. Direct Support Professionals sacrificed in ways many people do not realize.  In many programs, they left their homes and families, spent long stretches of days at a time supporting the individuals in residences who were positive for COVID 19 in full PPE and when their “shifts” ended they couldn’t go home to their families. They had to quarantine in hotel rooms and other locations for a 14 day period and in some cases developing symptoms themselves.  We learned how small our system truly is and how so many direct support professionals can not survive on the wages of one full time job. Many DSP’s who were tested positive as a result of exposure at a job with one employer also unknowingly exposed staff and individuals at their “second” job. 

 

We are grateful for the support of the State of NH, DHHS, and the Bureau of Developmental Services.  Their guidance and leadership to assist us in continuing to support individuals and families during the last few months has been instrumental in helping us navigate our new world. We also owe a great deal to Community Support Network, Inc., the association of the 10 area agencies. Through the leadership of Executive Director, Jonathan Routhier, they did amazing work centralizing communication with provider agencies, securing PPE, and assisting with numerous projects that affected us all.

 

We are not out of the woods yet, but we have come a long way since March. Our Service Coordinators soon hope to begin meeting in person with those they serve while ensuring social distancing and safe precautions.  We hope that you all stay healthy, safe, and are able to enjoy the glorious summer in New Hampshire.

 

Cynthia Mahar

 

March 30, 2020 COVID-19 Message Update

We hope that you and your loved ones continue to remain healthy.  Community Crossroads continues with remote operations. Last week the Governor issued a stay at home order that went into effect on Friday March 27, 2020 at 11:59 PM. This order directed all but “essential businesses” to remain closed. Details of this order can be found at: https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-media/emergency-orders/

 

We want to reassure you that services provided through the area agency system are considered essential services. Our staff continues to work remotely and is available to you via telephone or email. We know that these times are very difficult for you and your family. Our service provider agencies are doing their best to provide essential services to those they serve during a constantly changing situation. We know that this has and may continue to have a significant impact on their staffing levels and that they are working extremely hard to provide the safest level of care to those they serve. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this evolving situation. 

 

We will continue to provide updated information on our website.  If you have questions or suggestions, please contact your service coordinator.

Division Of Medicaid Services direction regarding the 90-day supply of maintenance medication and the early refill override for COVID-19

90-Day Medications:

  • All three MCOs and Medicaid fee-for-service allow members to receive a 90-day supply of maintenance medications through their local pharmacies.

Early Refills of Up to a 30-Day Supply of Medications During the COVID-19 Emergency:

  • There are limitations on how early members will be allowed to refill controlled substance prescriptions due to the high risk of overdose in New Hampshire. Requests for early refills received by the PBMs for controlled substances (Schedules II-IV) for reason of COVID-19 are referred to the health plan’s Pharmacy Unit as applicable.Medicaid fee-for-service (FFS) and the three MCOs are allowing an early refill override during the COVID-19 Emergency to allow members to obtain up to a 30-day supply of medications.
  • Early refills are not automatic. The NH Medicaid process for requesting an early refill requires the pharmacy to call the Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) to request an override of the early refill denial. The member will need to request the pharmacy to provide an early refill due to COVID-19. The pharmacy will then call the PBM to obtain the refill override.

For further information:

Contact Numbers for Members
Health Plan Phone Number
AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire 833-704-1177
NH Healthy Families 866-769-3085
Well Sense Health Plan 877-957-1300
Medicaid Fee-for-Service 866-664-4506
Contact Numbers for Pharmacies  
Health Plan Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) Phone Number
AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire PerformRx 888-765-6394
NH Healthy Families CVS Pharmacy Help Desk 888-613-7051
Well Sense Health Plan EnvisionRx Pharmacy Help Desk 800-361-4542
Medicaid Fee-for-Service Magellan RX Management 866-664-4511

 

Medicaid Managed Care Organization Information COVID-19

Below you will find websites that members can access for MCO-specific COVID-19 information.

211 NH has been mobilized to handle all COVID-19 related calls from New Hampshire residents.
All residents with questions or concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak can call 2-1-1.