Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

Officials to Determine Who Receives First COVID Vaccines

With Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine likely to be approved for emergency use by mid-December, government officials will meet this week to determine who will receive the first doses. A limited supply means that initial doses must be rationed while production continues to ramp up. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a committee which advises the CDC, has consistently recommended healthcare providers receive the vaccine first. High priority will likely be given to seniors and other high-risk groups, as well.

Meanwhile, charter planes are shipping doses of the vaccine across the country, ready to roll it out as soon as emergency approval is granted.

Pandemic Strain Closes Primary Care Clinics

A report from KHN reveals that the pressure of the pandemic is closing primary-care and pediatrician practices around the country. One study estimated that 16,000 practices, or about 8% of all physician practices in the country, have already closed due to the pandemic. Primary care doctors are struggling with the lack of wellness visits, patients who now skip regular appointments and preventive care, and even vaccinations.

The loss of these clinics and practices creates a burden on parents and others who now have to travel longer distances to find healthcare, especially in rural areas. Read the article.

Canada Moves to Block Exports of Some Drugs

President Trump’s move to allow re-imports of cheaply-priced drugs from Canada is supposed to help Americans find better prices on their prescriptions. In Canada, however, this move is raising the specter of drug shortages. In response, the Canadian health minister has signed an order to limit drug exports to the U.S. The Canadian government has stated they will not allow the drug importations to the U.S. if they could cause or worsen a drug shortage. While Canada didn’t name any specific drugs, a September report from the University of British Columbia found one quarter of prescription drugs could be subject to shortages.