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Pandemic Pressures:COVID-19 Poses Serious Behavioral Health Challenges - 09/20/2022

The mental health fallout caused by COVID-19 radiates throughout Texas. In this issue, we look at four of the biggest challenges physicians are responding to as more people say that worry and stress related to coronavirus have negatively impacted their mental health.


Novavax COVID Vaccine Available to Help Reach Patients Hesitant About mRNA Vaccines - 09/06/2022

The recently introduced COVID-19 vaccine Novavax gives physicians another tool for combating the disease, and it enjoys two important differences from previous vaccines that are potential advantages, says San Antonio infectious disease specialist Charles Lerner, MD, a member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force.


Federal Telehealth Extension Bill Advances to Senate - 08/31/2022

Signaling strong support to build on the COVID-19-era gains in telemedicine, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would extend Medicare’s telehealth payment and regulatory flexibilities through the end of 2024, should the public health emergency end before then.


Use This Permission Letter to Excuse Students from School Due to COVID-19 - 08/31/2022

If you treat students suspected of exposure to COVID-19, the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force has created a draft letter you can use to document the patient's excusal or return to school.


New COVID Boosters Expected for Fall; Preorder by Aug. 30 - 08/29/2022

With new COVID-19 boosters on the horizon targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron strains of the virus, Texas health officials have opened up preorders for these latest vaccines, which are expected to roll out this fall.


Public Health Emergency’s End Would Kickstart Medicaid Eligibility Re-Checks. Here’s How to Prepare - 08/19/2022

After strong advocacy by the American Medical Association and other organizations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services appears poised to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency for a 10th time.


Health Commissioner Reflects on Texas’ Pandemic Response, Honored by State Senate - 08/18/2022

Nearly two and a half years after the first positive COVID-19 test result was reported in Texas, Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, is taking stock of what happened next and how to prevent the next pandemic.


Purchase Bebtelovimab Directly From Distributor Starting Aug. 15 - 08/18/2022

With federally funded distribution of the COVID-19 therapeutic bebtelovimab coming to an end, physicians must now purchase the monoclonal antibody directly from the distributor starting the week of Aug. 15, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.


Feds Launch Evusheld Ordering Route for Smaller Entities, Quantities - 08/05/2022

Small physician practices now have a new way to access the COVID-19 preexposure drug Evusheld, and in smaller amounts. Practices also can benefit from a new helpline for information on the monoclonal antibody treatment that helps prevent COVID-19 infection among immunocompromised patients at high risk of severe illness.


Texas Sales Tax Holiday Includes Masks – Help Patients Prepare for School - 08/02/2022

The first day of the new school year is right around the corner, unfortunately during a time of rising COVID-19 cases. Fortunately, you can help promote healthy school environments during the pandemic and help your patients prepare starting with Texas’ sales tax holiday this weekend.


Challenge of a Lifetime: Jennifer Shuford, MD, Helped Lead Texas Through the COVID-19 Pandemic - 07/29/2022

Chief State Epidemiologist Jennifer Shuford, MD, found innovative ways to lead Texas through the COVID-19 emergency.


Long COVID's Long Shadow: Physicians Respond to an Influx of Long-COVID Patients - 07/29/2022

Long COVID has strained an already overburdened health care system and requires both multispecialty clinics and primary care physicians to meet demand.


CDC Authorizes Novavax Adult COVID Vaccine - 07/22/2022

There’s now a fourth COVID-19 vaccine option available in the U.S. after the federal government gave emergency use authorization to the Novavax vaccine for adults.


Q&A: The COVID Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 Subvariants - 07/19/2022

COVID-19’s ability to mutate into faster-spreading variants and subvariants makes it a dangerous moving target for physicians and other health care professionals.


DSHS: Consider Paxlovid as COVID Cases Rise - 07/13/2022

With Texas’ COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers on a recent upward swing, the state is reminding physicians about the therapeutics available to treat high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.


“Black Robes, Not White Coats”: Can Courts Compel Unproven Treatments? - 06/29/2022

COVID-19 patients and their families have involved judges and attorneys in an effort to compel physicians to treat the disease in unproven ways, against their medical judgment. And in some cases around the country, patients’ families have been successful in getting a court order to do so. The Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Patient-Physician Advocacy, while not directly involved in such cases, has a keen interest in making sure physicians can exercise their medical judgment.


“Fight the Good Fight:” Fleeger Awarded TMA’s Highest Honor - 06/29/2022

The Texas Medical Association bestowed its highest honor upon Austin colon and rectal surgeon David C. Fleeger, MD, for his confident leadership during difficult times and his longtime advocacy for medicine at the state and national levels.


Talk to Patients About: Natural Immunity vs. Vaccine Immunity for COVID-19 - 06/29/2022

Catching COVID-19 can provide people with a degree of immunity from being reinfected with the disease in the future. This prompts some to opt against vaccination and instead risk getting sick to obtain this “natural immunity” on the assumption they will get a mild case and it will protect them from future illness.


Vaccine Equity Gains: COVID-19 Vaccine Rate Disparities Narrow Amid Physician-Led Outreach - 06/29/2022

When the COVID-19 vaccine rollout began in mid-December 2020, many physicians, advocates, and community leaders worried the health disparities laid bare by the pandemic would repeat themselves.  But improved data collection and innovative outreach efforts – many of them led by Texas physicians and medical students – have helped close these gaps.


CDC: COVID “Rebound” Chance Doesn’t Affect Paxlovid Recommendation - 06/28/2022

Despite the possibility of a symptom recurrence after a COVID-19 patient is treated with Paxlovid, that antiviral drug remains recommended for initial COVID treatment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a recent health alert.


CDC Recommends COVID Vaccines for Kids as Young as 6 Months - 06/21/2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended two COVID-19 vaccines that now can be used for children between 6 months and 5 years old, meaning physicians and other vaccinators can begin giving those shots – and they’re now available for ordering through the state’s Vaccine Allocation & Ordering System.


State Webinar: COVID Vaccines for Kids Under 5 - 06/17/2022

The Texas Department of State Health Services is holding its latest Texas Vaccine Provider Webinar, focusing on the launch of COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, today from noon to 1:30 pm CT.


TMA Foundation Secures Matching Gift to Support Hard Hats for Little Heads - 06/10/2022

Champions of the Texas Medical Association’s Hard Hats for Little Heads program rose above and beyond at the TMA Foundation’s 29th annual gala on April 29 and earned a $10,500 matching gift during the event’s Make-A-Difference fundraising drive.


Feds Declare “Long COVID” a Disability - 06/10/2022

Although the pandemic rages on, there may be some relief in sight for people with lingering effects from COVID 19 infection – or “long COVID” – as well as consequences for the physicians who treat and employ them. The Biden administration in late


Preorder COVID Vaccines for Ages 6 Months to 5 Years - 06/03/2022

State health authorities are asking COVID-19 vaccinators who will immunize children from ages 6 months through 5 years to preorder the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that will collectively serve that age group once they’re approved.