KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Department of Health reported Tuesday that providers may prioritize the distribution of the treatment to those patients who are considered most at-risk.
The following statement was shared with WATE 6 On Your Side:
“Our recommendation to monoclonal antibody providers or individual facilities across the state is if they need to prioritize distribution of the treatment, the NIH guidelines are the recommended approach for that prioritization, including prioritizing those who are most likely to be hospitalized. Ultimately, this comes down to providers’ clinical judgment to ensure those most at risk are receiving this treatment. Providers across the state continue to receive supply of the treatment; however, we do not have an update on allocation for this week.”BILL CHRISTIAN | ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION & MEDIA RELATIONS FOR TDH
When looking at the guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, it is stated that if medical providers are having supply or staffing issues they can prioritize patients based on risk. A pharmacist at Clinton Drug Store said that includes a patient who is unvaccinated.
“There’s a lot of debate or heated things online about prioritizing it for certain patients,” started Tyler Dougherty. However, he clarified saying when it comes to concerns the vaccinated are being pushed to the back of the line for monoclonal antibody treatments, that’s just not the case.
Dougherty said it’s much more complex than that and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. “If you have a patient that is vaccinated, for example, and they’re severely immuno-compromised based off a lot of their co-morbidities for the disease states, clearly we’re going to make a judgment call on that,” said Dougherty.
He also said this call to prioritize patients really isn’t changing much for his pharmacy. He said most of the people needing the treatment are unvaccinated. “If you look at the hospitalizations right now, almost 98% of our hospitalizations in the state of Tennessee for COVID-19 are from the unvaccinated patients,” he said. “So, in our practice, we’re seeing almost everybody coming to get this is unvaccinated.”
Dougherty also said he’s already been faced with tough decisions as to who should get the treatment.
“We had three doses and we had more than three orders,” he said. “We had to say, ‘Hey, Are you vaccinated? Are you not vaccinated? What kind of diseases do you have? To try to rule out how do we make a judgment and where can we refer these patients to get the therapy if we don’t have it.”
Moving forward, he fears the situation will only get worse if people don’t opt for the first line of defense against the virus. “We’ve yet to have to severely make those judgment calls, but I am concerned for the future.”
There is a long list of additional criteria someone looking to get monoclonal antibody treatment needs to meet. The baseline criteria is a patient must be at least 12-years-old and weigh at least 85 pounds. A patient also must have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last ten days. There’s also a long list of high-risk health conditions someone must have to qualify. Finally, a doctor’s referral is needed for the treatment.