National Consumers League calls on Administration to swiftly address PBMs’ role in diving up drug costs

For immediate release: February 3, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Washington, DC – The National Consumers League encourages the Biden Administration to continue work on meaningful reforms that help drive down consumer out-of-pocket costs of medicines. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Monday announced the decision to delay a final rule on pharmaceutical rebates that would address critical issues in our healthcare system. The rule aims to lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers by eliminating anti-kickback safe harbors for drug rebates and offering them as direct-to-consumer discounts.

As HHS has demonstrated, the rebates, discounts, and fees negotiated between pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are rarely used to lower consumer out-of-pocket costs for medications. According to the new Senate Finance Committee report, some PBMs receive as much as 70 percent of insulin’s list price—demonstrating that PBMs can increase their profits when list prices are higher. By passing PBM rebates along to patients, savings at the pharmacy counter could be significant.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

This delay is a major and preventable setback for consumers. We could be one step closer to significantly lowering out-of-pocket costs, but the government has delayed action. As we continue to face a global pandemic and economic challenges, it’s absolutely essential that we put the interests of consumers above all else—including PBMs.

“We must fix our broken drug pricing process, and HHS has identified one major flaw. The discounts these manufacturers offer to PBMs aren’t passed along to consumers as they should be. And PBMs continue to increase their fees, driving costs up even further. This rule would ensure that consumers—not large, corporate PBMs—save money on the medications they need.

Consumers deserve better, and NCL is committed to encouraging meaningful PBM reforms as soon as possible.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

Script Your Future launches tenth annual student competition for innovations in medication adherence

February 1, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Today marks the launch of the tenth annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a two-month-long intercollegiate competition among health profession student teams and faculty for creating solutions to raise awareness about medication adherence as a critical public health issue. The Challenge, hosted by the National Consumers League (NCL), is returning to university campuses across the country after nine years of successful student competition and innovation.

The Challenge is an integral part of Script Your Future, a campaign launched by NCL and its partners in 2011 to combat the problem of poor medication adherence in the United States, where nearly three out of four patients do not take their medication as directed.

“Today’s medications are better than ever at treating and curing people, but these treatments can only work if patients know the importance of taking their prescriptions as directed. It takes all members of the health team to make that happen,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “For 10 years, our Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has galvanized student health professionals to explore creative, interprofessional approaches, in encouraging medication adherence. To usher Script Your Future into the next era of improving adherence, we have implemented two new components to the Team Challenge: technology innovation and vaccine adherence. We have been blown away by the ingenuity of our student teams, and we look forward to how they will contribute to their communities in this year’s Team Challenge.”

As the nation continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Script Your Future teams are encouraged to build their campaigns centering around vaccine confidence to help address hesitancy and mitigate further spread of the coronavirus. Teams are encouraged to tailor their outreach towards chronic health issues including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. Challenge administrators also welcome the inclusion of other disease groups that would benefit from medication adherence-related interventions.

The Challenge is sponsored by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation, and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

Through April 2, inter-professional teams—including student pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and others—will implement creative outreach approaches in their communities to raise awareness and improve understanding about medication adherence. At the end of the Challenge, teams submit entries for review by national partner organizations, and winners are recognized for their efforts to improve medication adherence.

Last year, Team Challenge student health professionals were met with unique circumstances, hurdles, and obstacles as they navigated the historic COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in school closures, event cancelations, and a host of other challenges. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, dedicated teams pivoted their campaigns and made an impact in other ways. Ultimately, however, more than 80 teams submitted applications; the competition saw engagement from nearly 2,900 future healthcare professionals and volunteers, who hosted more than 250 events in 14 states. Collectively, the teams directly counseled close to 12,000 patients and introduced Script Your Future messaging to more than 430,000 consumers, nationwide.

Since the Team Challenge began in 2011, more than 21,000 future healthcare professionals have directly counseled nearly 87,000 patients and nearly 26 million consumers.

Last year’s national award winner was University of the Sciences: Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. Other schools winning category-specific honors included: Howard University College of Pharmacy; St. Louis College of Pharmacy; Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy (LECOM); University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy; and Western University College of Pharmacy. Additional participating schools received finalist and runner-up status across a variety of award categories.

To learn about previous winners, visit Script Your Future’s online home.

For more information on the Challenge, visit the Challenge Community website.

Tweet along with us during the Challenge using #SYFchallenge, and follow the campaign @IWillTakeMyMeds.

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About National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

About Script Your Future

Script Your Future is a campaign of the National Consumers League (NCL), a private, non-profit membership organization founded in 1899. NCL’s mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information about the Script Your Future campaign, visit ScriptYourFuture.org. For more information on NCL, please visit nclnet.org.

Mask up! New Executive Order mandating mask-wearing a welcome development

Nissa Shaffi

By Nissa Shaffi, NCL Associate Director of Health Policy

On January 20, just hours following a historic inauguration, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) requiring mask-wearing on federal property and inside airports, planes, trains, ships, and intercity buses. Effective immediately, refusing to wear a mask in these locations will now be considered a federal offense. The President also called on governors and local health officials to encourage mask-wearing and social distancing. This comes as especially good news for airlines and their employees, as they now have a federal rule protecting them from passengers who refuse to wear masks inflight, in turn ensuring everyone’s safety.

The EO is the latest of many efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 by influencing behavior around this necessary public health measure. The mandate to require mask-wearing is also poised to complement President Biden’s call to action for the American public to commit to 100 days of mask-wearing, during the early days of his presidency. Epidemiologists agree that concerted efforts towards pandemic-related precautions can significantly reduce COVID-19 cases in the country, providing much-needed relief for health care facilities currently operating beyond maximum capacity.

Over the course of the pandemic, mask-wearing has unfortunately morphed into a highly polarizing political issue. More than 405,000 Americans have perished in the last year, and irresponsible behavior, such as a stubbornness towards wearing masks, will only further exacerbate the crisis. There are many contributing factors behind this phenomenon, but a lot of it distills down to misinformation and propaganda.

The bottom line is that masks save lives and are powerful tools in preventing the spread of COVID-19. They should be worn to protect the wearer, as well as those they come into contact with. The EO mandating the use of masks is a great step in encouraging civic responsibility in containing the virus. As we forge ahead in our persistence against the coronavirus, consumers are encouraged to maintain adherence to federal health guidance pertaining to physical distancing, the usage of masks, and other public health measures.

Welcoming FDA’s call for better science, more research on CBD

In 2019, in response to the growing retail market of untested, unapproved cannabidiol (CBD) products, NCL identified the need for greater consumer education and increased regulation at the federal level. NCL and its partners — Consumer Federation of America and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America — created Consumers for Safe CBD to help raise awareness of the unregulated CBD marketplace, champion the rights of consumers, and call on government and industry to do more to protect consumers. This year, we will continue to work with key stakeholders to encourage safe CBD food and beverage products and promote a pathway for new therapeutic products through clinically-tested scientific research.

We’ve come a long way since our launch, and FDA is making progress. Newly former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy recently called for better science, more data, and increased testing to determine the risks and benefits associated with CBD. We are encouraged by the commitments outlined in the FDA statement and look forward to continued collaboration with the Biden Administration and the new leadership at the agency to make the CBD marketplace fair, safe, and healthy for consumers.

Read more about the FDA’s comments on the Consumers for Safe CBD here and sign up for CBD updates from our Consumers for Safe CBD campaign here.

Letter to Congress: NCL calls for confirmation of Becerra as Health Secretary

January 22, 2021

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Wyden:

The National Consumers League (NCL) is America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, representing consumers and workers on marketplace and workplace issues since our founding in 1899. NCL has long advocated for equitable access to affordable quality health care for all. Today, NCL continues to work tirelessly to ensure the nation’s COVID-19 response meets the needs of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

As such, we call on the Senate to act expeditiously to confirm the appointment of Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). AG Becerra’s appointment to Secretary of HHS is welcomed by advocates across the health care spectrum. As a nation in the midst of a public health crisis, there has never been a more critical time for bipartisanship. AG Becerra’s speedy confirmation would be a positive step forward to setting aside political ideology and working across the aisle to serve the American people.

AG Becerra is a proven champion for increasing access to health care in low-income minority communities, which are being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. As Attorney General of California, AG Becerra’s stalwart leadership helped to preserve key consumer health care protections enacted by the Affordable Care Act. We anticipate that Attorney General Becerra will lead the HHS pandemic response with the same health equity and social justice principles he’s employed throughout his career.

NCL strongly supports the nomination of Attorney General Xavier Becerra as the next HHS Secretary and urges this Committee to report his nomination favorably to the Senate. NCL is encouraged this Committee has already begun the nomination process by sending its initial questionnaire to the nominee, and hopes this is an indicator that the diligent work to confirm AG Becerra’s appointment to HHS will commence without delay.

Sincerely,

Sally Greenberg
Executive Director
National Consumers League

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

COVID vaccine: Credit where credit is due

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

It’s almost a miracle. We now have safe and effective vaccines to fight SARS CoV2, commonly known as COVID-19, the devastating illness that has swept across the globe and—as of January 16, 2021—has killed more than 390,938 Americans and infected 23.5 million in less than a year.

Nearly 40 percent of those who’ve died were beloved older Americans in long-term care facilities, where the disease spread like wildfire, and who were often unable to say goodbye to loved ones.

Sadly, many who contracted the illness and survived spent lengthy hospital stays clinging to life on respirators. Of those who recovered, millions report COVID’s debilitating long-term effects. The United States has four percent of the world’s population but nearly a fifth of its recorded coronavirus deaths—the most of any country. Think of this: we have lost in less than one year eight times the number of Americans who died in the whole Vietnam war, and nine times the number who die in car accidents each year.

But now there’s light at the end of the tunnel because, in record time, America’s pharmaceutical companies have successfully developed safe and highly effective vaccines. Since the SARS CoV 2’s grip over America in late March of 2020, all medical experts could talk about—beyond washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing—was getting a vaccine to prevent this illness. But vaccines typically take many years to develop so, we were told, don’t hold your breath. And yet here we are.

Consumer groups and members of Congress have been known to criticize the pharmaceutical industry. I get it; too many drugs are expensive and out of reach for millions of Americans, and that must be addressed. But it’s also important to acknowledge value of the public private partnership and the vast resources these companies have put into the R&D and bringing to market life-saving vaccines.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example. The leading vaccines developed for COVID-19 are here, thanks to the dedication of industry leaders and scientists. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla shifted the company’s focus to singlemindedly developing a COVID vaccine, leveraging its substantial scientific and medical expertise, as well as 20 years of research on previous SARS-like illnesses. Pfizer committed hundreds of millions of dollars of its own resources to building a manufacturing network, and companies agreed to share their knowhow. These efforts were critical in achieving an effective and safe vaccine in record time. And in creating a distribution system that could maintain the very cold temperatures needed to preserve, especially the Pfizer vaccine, before it is administered.

Our government doesn’t have the resources to make that happen alone. Yes, something close to $10 billion in taxpayer dollars through Operation Warp Speed went to companies to assist with the rapid development of a vaccine, but Pfizer didn’t accept government funding for the initial development of the vaccine (though the company did receive $1.95 billion for manufacturing and nationwide distribution of 100 million doses).

And now we have Moderna, which also received more than $1 billion in funding, joining Pfizer in making available a two-dose vaccine that is safe and 95 percent effective, with Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Novavax not far behind with vaccines that may only require one dose. The public-private partnership model works. And consumers won’t have to pay to receive these shots. Experts tell us we should have five vaccines available by March or April, which is important because it gives healthcare providers options for different populations.

The next challenge is getting it into the arms of enough of us so that we can reach herd immunity, which means at least 60-70 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated.

And while this process has been disappointingly slow, this is largely because states haven’t been given adequate resources from the federal government to support a massive vaccination program. That said, more than a million Americans and counting have now been vaccinated and, under the incoming Biden-Harris Administration and a Democratic Congress, vast additional resources will be going to support for states and localities. The good news for vaccines is that there is high demand for the shots. My own Washington, DC community has offered thousands of appointments for shots online in the morning and they are taken immediately.

We have many to thank for this vaccine’s rapid development, but we must acknowledge the success of this uniquely American public-private partnership. We applaud the heroic work of Pfizer, Moderna, and the other companies to speed R&D and clinical trials of thousands of patients, to ensure a vaccine that is safe and effective. And kudos also to the trusted scientists at FDA and CDC for reviewing the data, ensuring the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, and approving them.

A special thanks is due to two esteemed FDA directors: former director Dr. Scott Gottlieb and our current FDA head Dr. Stephen Hahn, who gave us the straight scoop this past year and promised and delivered on FDA’s integrity and reliance on science throughout the process. And of course, we owe a deep debt of gratitude to our national hero, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who provided honest, science-based advice to the American people throughout these tense and trying times, despite pressure from the Trump Administration to play down the pandemic. Americans clearly agree, as evidenced by “Thank You, Dr. Fauci” signs on lawns across America!

Ensuring completion of series for the COVID-19 vaccine

Nissa Shaffi

By Nissa Shaffi, NCL Associate Director of Health Policy

After 10 dark months and over 350,000 lives lost, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel in the fight against COVID-19. Developing a vaccine for COVID-19 in such a short timeframe was made possible by dedicated efforts on the part of scientists, public health experts, and private and public partnerships. It is truly a triumphant medical achievement.

Now health care providers face another summit to scale—ensuring compliance for the vaccine to encourage efficacy and herd immunity. The leading vaccines for COVID-19, Pfizer BioNTech, and Moderna, will require two doses to ensure efficacy. Evidence has shown that when a vaccine involves multiple doses, nearly 50 percent of patients fail to return for a second dose. Clearly, aside from the distribution and administration, ensuring completion of series for the vaccine will be a critical logistical challenge.

It is estimated that 75 to 85 percent of the population will need to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity. That’s a lot of people. And if we account for the odds of those who will receive the vaccine and do not complete their series, we’ve got a long road ahead before the pandemic is behind us.

While both the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to be 95 percent effective, require two doses, and use similar mRNA vaccine technology, they differ in timelines. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine requires two doses that are spaced three weeks apart, and Moderna’s vaccine requires two doses that are spaced four weeks apart. Coordinating efforts to ensure that patients get the correct vaccine in a timely manner, will be a massive undertaking.

There are multiple barriers to address in order to enhance vaccine compliance to end the pandemic. The vaccine is expected to induce flu-like symptoms and may deter some patients from getting their second dose if they aren’t warned about what to expect. Common side effects of the vaccine include headache, fever, chills, soreness at the site of delivery, and fatigue, but patients will need transparency about all potential side effects.

All patients who receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be given vaccine cards (see below). These cards will help track the type of vaccine administered, the dosage, date, and other information pertinent to providers and patients to ensure the completion of a series. Similar to contact tracing, massive follow up will be required via text messages, along with other interventions to remind patients of their upcoming second dose.

Source: CNN

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement on the importance of properly adhering to FDA-issued vaccine guidelines. The vaccines have been issued with specified dosages and are scheduled at timed intervals. Individuals are instructed against reducing the number of doses (only taking one shot), extending the length of time between their booster vaccines, or changing guidance that is not rooted in evidence-based science, as it will directly impact the efficacy of the vaccine. Until new data is released by scientists and manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccine regarding changes in dosage or schedules, FDA encourages continued adherence to its current issued guidance.

Vaccine hesitancy will surely further complicate matters. A study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that African Americans are increasingly skeptical of a COVID-19 vaccine. The findings allude to generational distrust of government and medical institutions by people of color, specifically, African Americans, where vaccine hesitancy has been influenced by lived experiences with discrimination and systemic racism. A successful vaccination plan will not only consider the herculean task of distribution and administration but should provide credible outreach within communities of color to foster confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.

The National Consumers League continues to educate consumers on the importance of vaccine safety and compliance through our advocacy and engagement with the FDA. Our best line of defense against the pandemic is vaccine confidence and adherence. We encourage all who are able to get vaccinated for their own health and the health of their loved ones and community.

National Consumers League applauds Congress for surprise billing protections for consumers

For immediate release: December 22, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League welcomes the inclusion of long-needed surprise billing protections in the COVID Relief Omnibus Spending Bill.

Surprise billing happens when a patient’s insurance doesn’t cover a procedure provided by an out-of-network physician, something patients don’t know or realize when they get a procedure. An estimated one in five emergency visits and one in six inpatient admissions will trigger a surprise bill, which can run into the thousands of dollars.

Medical debt disproportionately drives people into bankruptcy. Bill collectors and hospitals often layer on fees, interest, and penalties, driving the original costs way up. A 2019 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that 530,000 bankruptcies filed annually are because of debt accrued as a result of treatment for medical illness.

This statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“We greatly appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in getting the surprise billing language over the finish line. We also thank House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) for their early leadership on this issue. This is a shining example of working across the aisle for the betterment of consumers.

Consumers can breathe a huge sigh of relief because under the bill—including the cost of an air ambulance—consumers will be ‘held harmless’ when exposed to out-of-network costs. Once this bill is law, consumers can expect that fees charged will be far more affordable and predictable at in-network rates. We are grateful to Congress for recognizing surprise billing as a predatory practice from which consumers need protection. The committee leadership not only helped to pass a bill but launched an investigation.

After two years of debate and discussion on how health care providers and health plans will negotiate these extra costs, it was agreed that patients should be taken out of the middle of dispute resolution processes. Now, we finally have a workable system for protecting consumers.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

Jeanette Contreras portrait

2021 rings in new health care protections for consumers

By NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras

Surprise medical bills occur when patients unknowingly receive care from a provider who is not in their health insurance plan’s network. As the first COVID-19 vaccinations are administered, Congress has passed landmark legislation to ensure consumers needn’t worry about surprise medical bills from emergency medical services.

The passage of this legislation couldn’t come soon enough, as more than 476,000 Americans hospitalized with the coronavirus have already incurred exorbitant medical debt from COVID-19 treatment. Now, thankfully, 2020 will come to a close with renewed optimism in the American health care system.

This new law will also protect consumers from surprise billing from out-of-network ambulance and air ambulance trips, which can amount to tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Most patients are conscientious consumers, careful to find a doctor that accepts their insurance before making an appointment. However, in the case of an emergency, a patient faces the possibility of receiving care from an out-of-network doctor in an out-of-network hospital.

As Congress debated legislative fixes to surprise billing, the Administration showed political will toward finding a solution with the issuance of Executive Order 13877, Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First, which includes principles on surprise billing. In a July 2020 report addressing surprise billing, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) further urged Congress to act, recognizing that 41 percent of insured adults nationwide were surprised by a medical bill in the past two years.

Following Executive Order 13877, HHS finalized a set of regulations to address price transparency for consumers. The first rule set to take effect on January 1, 2021, requires hospitals to publicly list standard charges for the items and services that they provide. The second rule, set to take effect in 2022, demands similar transparency from most health plans and issuers of health insurance coverage. These regulations offer consumers more control over their health care spending and better information as they shop and compare health coverage options for themselves and their families.

The new HHS regulations, coupled with the surprise billing legislation, amount to the greatest consumer protections in America’s health care system since the Affordable Care Act. Consumers with health insurance should not have to worry about surprise medical bills—especially during a pandemic. The health care system will be a little more consumer-friendly in 2021, which is good news for all of us.

NCL testified before CDC committee on COVID-19 vaccine recommendations

For immediate release: December 22, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) testified before the Centers for Disease Control and Disease Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) this weekend on the equitable distribution of the Moderna vaccine and recommendations for consumer education on vaccine safety. In its testimony, NCL applauds the transparency and access afforded to the public throughout the COVID-19 vaccine approval process.

Equitable distribution:

NCL is encouraged that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Moderna vaccine and that the U.S. government will lead distribution efforts. Due to its ease of transport and storage, the Moderna vaccine stands to readily ship to rural and hard to reach communities. NCL calls on federal health officials at the helm of distribution to facilitate access to the Moderna vaccine to medically underserved areas.

Safety and efficacy:

NCL expressed its trust in the FDA and CDC’s robust inter-agency collaboration to continue ongoing, post-market surveillance of adverse events among recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine and to inform consumers of any additional safety recommendations. NCL urged the CDC to educate consumers about potential reactions and side effects, as this transparency will further encourage the compliance necessary to achieve herd immunity. The vaccine is expected to induce flu-like symptoms after the initial dose and this may deter some patients from getting their second dose if they aren’t warned about what to anticipate.

Vaccine adherence:

NCL encouraged the CDC to conduct culturally competent and inclusive public messaging about vaccine safety to ensure that communities of color and persons with limited English proficiency are informed and feel empowered in their decisions to vaccinate. Adding to the complexity of administering the vaccine, public health officials will need to ensure the completion of two doses in a series. This stands to create additional challenges because evidence has shown that when a vaccine involves multiple doses, nearly 50 percent of patients fail to return for a second dose.

Equitable allocation:

NCL applauds ACIP’s recommendations to prioritize vaccinations for health care workers and long-term care facility residents in Phase 1a. Now that there are two approved vaccines, NCL calls on ACIP to prioritize recommendations to vaccinate the approximately 87 million non-healthcare essential workers unable to work from home—such as bus drivers and grocery workers—who are at higher risk of exposure. Racial and ethnic minorities make up more than 40 percent of the essential workforce and are the backbone of many essential industries. The pandemic has illustrated that low-income minority communities experience more severe COVID-related illness requiring hospitalization and are at higher risk for death.

Persons who recovered from COVID-19:

Lastly, over 18 million individuals in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus. It is expected that individuals who recover will acquire some natural immunity to COVID-19. Individuals who recover from the coronavirus want to know if they are protected from reinfection and for how long. We call on the CDC to expedite developing vaccine recommendations for persons who’ve recovered from COVID-19.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.