Long-term care industry supports CDC recommendation to include in 1st phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Long-term care industry supports CDC recommendation to include in 1st phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution
(Source: WAVE 3 News)

ATLANTA, Ga. (WMBF) - Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss and vote on guidance for how states should allocate a COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1-A of distribution.

A final vote determined that Phase 1-A would not only include healthcare personnel, but also residents of long-term care facilities. This was favored by members in a vote of 13-1.

The language states: “When a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized by FDA and recommended by ACIP, vaccination in the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program (Phase 1a) should be offered to both 1) health care personnel and 2) residents of long-term care facilities.”

According to the ACIP, long-term facility residents are defined as those who are unable to live independently, and thus live in facilities who provide services such as medical and personal care.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living sent out a statement following the committee’s findings, saying that they are calling on governors to make sure that long-term residents and staff are among the first to receive the vaccine in its first distribution.

“More than 100,000 long term care residents have died from this virus in the U.S. and our nursing homes are now experiencing the worst outbreak of new cases since last spring with more than 2,000 residents succumbing to this virus each week,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said in a statement. “Given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of this virus combined with the explosion of community spread across the U.S., we are extremely hopeful this vaccine will literally be a lifesaver for thousands of residents and expedite the reopening of our facilities to family members and loved ones.”

WMBF Investigates asked DHEC how this will impact their distribution plan to include residents of long-term care facilities in Phase 1-A. DHEC said they are already part of Phase 1-A but according to the state’s interim vaccination plan, “paid and unpaid people serving in healthcare settings who can potentially or indirectly expose patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home” are the only individuals spelled out at this time.

Phase 1-B would then include critical infrastructure workers (”people who play a crucial role in sustaining essential functions of society running and cannot socially distance in the workplace”) and high-risk individuals, such as those 65 years of age and older.

DHEC articulates on their COVID-19 vaccine FAQ website that “these limited doses will be allocated to vaccine providers enrolled in South Carolina according to federal guidance to be administered to those at highest risk for spreading the virus, contracting the virus or those at the highest risk of death.” The agency then lists front-line medical personnel (including nursing home providers), nursing home residents, and critical infrastructure employees.

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