The ACIP recommended that nursing home residents and staff members be among the first people in the United States to receive the coronavirus vaccine. However, each state has to figure out where long-term care staff members must go to get vaccinated; some may have to go off-site. Public health officials are also confronting hesitance among some workers as well as residents and their family members about getting a new vaccine that some are concerned has not been sufficiently tested on elderly, medically frail people.
To add to the confusion, each state has the responsibility of deciding the order of priority for receiving the vaccine. Although the ACIP recommended nursing home residents and staff first, it is just that, a recommendation. To date, several states have varied their approach:
- Kentucky – half of the vaccine will the sent to hospitals and the other half to long-term care facilities
- Utah – sending the vaccine to front-line workers in five large hospitals first and long-term care residents and staff will be vaccinated next
- Mississippi is planning to vaccinate police, firefighters, and other first responders, in addition to hospital workers before people in nursing homes
State officials are still working out some other key details. While many states said that staff members of long-term care facilities would be vaccinated at their workplaces, workers in other states may have to travel to a hospital or other site for the vaccine, especially if they are prioritized ahead of long-term care residents. Despite the confusion, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said that he expects all nursing home residents and workers to be immunized by the middle of January!
Stay the course, stay strong, stay well, mask up, and stay tuned!