From National Council:
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) released their COVID-19 vaccine distribution recommendations. We want to share an update on our ongoing efforts to ensure that behavioral health organizations are prioritized in our nation’s COVID-19 response.
As written, the CDC’s vaccine distribution recommendations have been left open-ended concerning whether or not behavioral health providers and organizations are included under the Phase 1 vaccination category.
Failing to specify whether behavioral health providers and organizations will have immediate vaccine access is unacceptable given the essential work done every day during the pandemic to provide life-saving mental health and substance use disorder treatment and services in communities across the country.
However, the panel’s recommendations are not yet final and must be approved by the CDC director before becoming official CDC state guidance.
To emphasize our point, we recruited partners and sent a letter this morning to US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar; CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD; and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Chair José Romero, MD, FAAP, calling for mental health and substance use providers to be included as essential frontline providers for the purposes of Phase 1 vaccine distribution.
We also released a public statement in response to the initial vaccine recommendations, citing the need for behavioral health providers and organizations to have uninhibited access to testing support, the funding necessary to meet increased demand, and Phase 1 vaccine distribution.
We are frontline and essential – and we will make sure that behavioral health providers and organizations get prioritized support.
If you have any questions, please contact us!