Infectious Disease

Governors urged long-term care residents and workers for the COVID-19 vaccine to be given precedence

December 21, 2020

3 min read

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Parkinson is the President and CEO of AHCA / NCAL. Gifford is the Chief Medical Officer of AHCA / NCAL.

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The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living are calling on governors and health officials to prioritize residents and employees of long-term care facilities in the first wave of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Mark Parkinson, The President and CEO of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA / NCAL) said during a press conference that it became clear that long-term care residents at the onset of the pandemic have a particularly high risk of death from the novel coronavirus and that ” we now know from the data that a long-term care resident is over 600 times more likely to die of a [COVID-19] Infection as a person who is in their 20s. “

The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living are calling on governors and health officials to prioritize residents and employees of long-term care facilities in the first wave of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Source: Adobe Stock.

Recently, HHS distributed $ 523 million in benefit payments to nursing homes who reduced their COVID-19 cases and deaths from September through October to incentivize lower cases and aid their response to the pandemic.

The high death rate among residents of long-term care facilities, as well as the recent increase in cases in these facilities and among the general public, have led the AHCA / NCAL to make recommendations for the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“First, we urge every governor and public health officer to make long-term care residents and workers an absolute top priority in getting the vaccine,” said Parkinson. “And second, we ask them to set a goal – a goal with a specific date by which every single resident and employee in these facilities will receive their second dose of vaccine by March 1st.”

He said that if this were achieved tens of thousands of lives could be saved.

“It’s an amazing statistic that less than 1% of COVID-19 cases in the US have been people in long-term care, but over 40% of deaths have occurred there,” he said. “As tragic as this statistic is, it is an incredible opportunity for us to make a huge difference in death rates by focusing the first few rounds of vaccine distribution and actual vaccination on this very vulnerable population.”

David Gifford, MD, The AHCA / NCAL chief medical officer said that while this was a “monumental task” they are working with the CDC, pharmacy chains Walgreens, CVS and others on the logistics of this goal.

“We expect vaccines to be seen in the arms of residents in our buildings in the next few weeks,” he said.

Parkinson noted that although the CDC and states have indicated that health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities should be the first wave of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, there likely won’t be enough vaccines for everyone in that group in the first round becomes.

“Everyone in the top tier must definitely be vaccinated, and we are in no way suggesting that there are health workers at this top tier who shouldn’t be vaccinated. We totally understand that, ”he said. “But we say that with this limited supply available for the next several weeks, the absolute top of this top tier should be the residents of long-term facilities and the people who look after them.”

This is because the data suggests that it could lower the overall death rate from COVID-19 in the US by 40%

Gifford later said that many families and local residents look forward to receiving the vaccine even though they don’t expect federal, state, or facility-level residents to get the vaccine.

Parkinson added that although some have told the public they would be reluctant to receive the vaccine, the same reluctance is unlikely among people who live and work in long-term care facilities due to the high mortality rate among residents.

“Tragically, our people saw in advance how terrible this virus can be, and so I would assume the adoption rate is much higher among workers and facility residents,” he said.

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