December 16, 2020
On December 1, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that health care personnel* who provide direct patient care in inpatient or outpatient settings be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination when it becomes available. Since then, SNMMI has taken action with various partner organizations to support the inclusion of imaging professionals in that allocation.
Nuclear medicine technologists, like other medical imaging professionals from radiology, continue to perform a multitude of nuclear medicine procedures under challenging circumstances. These procedures play an important role not only in the care and management of COVID-19 patients but also in the diagnosis and treatment of several oncologic conditions, and as such their efforts should be recognized and protected.
On December 7, SNMMI, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) and Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) sent a letter to state public health officials to ensure that all radiologic technologists, radiation therapists, nuclear medicine technologists and sonographers are included in their state’s COVID vaccination plan as members of the ACIP’s Phase 1a health care personnel. The group emphasized, "If medical imaging and radiation therapy personnel are not protected from COVID by receiving the vaccination as soon as it is available, patients may go without needed examinations and treatments."
On December 14, SNMMI and various organizations representing medical imaging providers and manufacturers sent a letter to the National Governors Association supporting the implementation of the CDC’s ACIP vaccine distribution recommendation, “Interim Recommendation for Allocating Initial Supplies of COVID-19 Vaccine.” In that letter, the organizations specifically requested that states follow the CDC’s recommended guidance of health care personnel in Phase 1a. "We strongly urge you to include those in the healthcare infrastructure in your states' definition of Phase 1a, including sonographers, radiation therapists, nuclear medicine technologists, radiologic technologists, and medical device servicers," they said.
*In their recommendation, ACIP defines health care personnel as “paid and unpaid persons serving in the health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.