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Connection Newsletter - ADHS releases its recommendations for safer holiday gatherings

It is easy to feel safe around relatives and friends you know and trust. In the interest of everyone’s health, consider following some of the recommended safety tips.

ADHS releases its recommendations for safer holiday gatherings

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) released yesterday its recommendations for safer holiday gatherings. With Thanksgiving being one week away, many have already started planning their holiday gatherings with family, friends and loved ones but it is important to not let your guard down. It is easy to feel safe around relatives and friends you know and trust. In the interest of everyone’s health, wear masks and physically distance around those who aren’t members of your household. As you make plans, keep in mind the following ADHS recommendations:

  • Celebrate outside - Celebrating in the open air of your yard or a park reduces the chances of transmitting COVID-19. If moving outside isn’t an option, open windows and patio doors to increase ventilation, maintain physical distance and wear a mask.
  • Reduce the number of guests - Reducing the number of individuals and households gathering reduces the risk that someone who is infected will attend. Consider hosting a virtual meeting especially with those who are most vulnerable.
  • Serve smart - Avoid self-serve setups, buffets, and sharing serving utensils. If sharing food, have one person serve and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.
  • Keep your hands clean - Wash your hands before and after preparing, serving, and eating food.

Find more tips and guidance for the holidays at

Guidance on immunization for COVID-19 infected, suspected or quarantined individuals

Seeking routine medical care including maintaining up-to-date vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic is important to stay healthy. It is important to note: there are exceptions. If a patient is infected, suspected of having or quarantined due to COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends temporarily forgoing vaccinations. In its updated interim guidance, the CDC recommends postponing appointments until criteria have been met for COVID-19 positive individuals to discontinue isolation. To view the full guidance, visit the CDC website.

Individuals who have not been diagnosed with, exposed to or suspected to have COVID-19, on the other hand, are encouraged to get their flu shot. To find an Arizona flu vaccine location near you, visit

COVID-19 vaccine provider onboarding

Although it is unknown when a COVID-19 vaccine will become available, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), Arizona Immunization Program Office (AIPO), has begun onboarding for providers who would like to administer future COVID-19 vaccines. Both vaccine for children (VFC) and non-VFC providers who would like to administer future COVID-19 vaccines must complete the Pandemic Provider Onboarding survey forms located on the ADHS website. 

Onboarding is not an instantaneous process. It will take the AIPO time to add providers to the Arizona State Immunization Information System (ASIIS) and review requirements. ADHS recommends providers initiate the onboarding process as soon as possible.

Provider staff can go to AIPO Train to learn how to order, receive, store, administer, document and account for pandemic vaccines in ASIIS.

Mask-up Arizona resources

Over the past few weeks, we have seen COVID-19 trends increasing across the state and across the nation. The use of face coverings and other safety guidelines have proven to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In an effort to continue encouraging our community members to #MaskUp and practice other safety measures, AzHHA has created a webpage with communication resources for your organization to use. Visit to view and download video public service announcements, social media text, graphics and letters of support.

CMS’ star ratings on quality data will not update in January 2021

According to an American Hospital Association publication, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) will not be updating its hospital star rating quality data on Hospital Compare in January 2021 to allow time to review public comment and finalize proposed changes to the star ratings methodology. Under an interim final rule released in August, CMS will not use quality data from January 1 - June 30, 2020 for performance or use in quality reporting or value-based payment programs. The next quarterly update to Hospital Compare will be July 2021 for the healthcare-associated infections measure; Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) measures for inpatient and cancer hospitals; inpatient timely and effective care measures; outpatient timely and effective care measures; and outpatient and ambulatory surgery CAHPS measure; and October 2021 for the American College of Surgeons measure. 

Upcoming Events

November 19 – Celebrate the Power of Rural telehealth webinar

Mark this year’s National Rural Health Day with a special telehealth webinar - 2020 Mid-Year Rural Health Policy Roundup with Alan Morgan, Chief Executive Officer for the National Rural Health Association. Click here for more information.

November 20 – Webinar: Preparing for the “Twindemic” in Rural AZ

The Arizona Center for Rural Health will be hosting a webinar, Preparing for the “Twindemic” in Rural AZ, which will provide attendees with information about vaccines, types of consultative services provided by the Arizona Surge Line as well as information on how to  recognize patients who would benefit from a physician consult through the Arizona Surge Line.

December 3, 10 a.m. – Introduction to POLST webinar

The one-hour Introduction to POLST workshop equips healthcare professionals with knowledge and resources to begin using POLST, a “portable medical order,” in Arizona. The objectives are to describe what POLST is at the state and national level, explain why POLST is important, define the population for POLST, when to begin the conversation and who completes POLST, describe the process for completing, reviewing and updating POLST and learn the process of submitting healthcare planning documents to the Arizona Healthcare Directive Registry.

In Other News

FDA approves first COVID-19 test kit for home use

Gov. Ducey encourages all Arizonans to wear masks, wants children in school

New Pfizer results: Coronavirus vaccine is safe and 95% effective
New York Times