HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -Shortly after the pandemic began COVID-19 found its way into nursing homes and care facilities across the country, making some patients sick and killing others.
John Matson, spokesperson for the Alabama Nursing Home Association said COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people who are elderly and have multiple medical conditions.
“That certainly describes a nursing home resident,” he said. “People in our buildings require 24 hours a day skilled nursing care for a reason because they have multiple medical conditions that need to be managed. Many times our residents are very elderly 95 or 100 or more years old.”
Residents of long-term care facilities will be receiving vaccines through a federal program. Those are separate from Alabama’s initial allotment of nearly 41,000 doses of the vaccine.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created The Federal Pharmacy Program to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to patients and employees in long-term care facilities.
In Alabama that program will run through three pharmacies.
“It works with both CVS and Walgreens nationally and then in Alabama Senior Care Pharmacy is also one of the partners,” said Matson. “These pharmacies will receive shipments of the vaccine, they will bring them to the nursing home they will administer them to residents and staff, and then fill out all the necessary government paperwork.”
Matson said the pharmacies are set to receive the doses next week.
“CVS, Walgreens and Senior Care Pharmacy should start receiving doses the vaccine on December 21 and from there, they could begin administering it in nursing homes, shortly after Christmas.”
While pharmacies are anticipating a December 21 delivery date, it remains a fluid matter. Matson said the association is confident all nursing homes in Alabama will have access to the vaccine before the year ends.
Patients can choose to opt-out of receiving the vaccine. However, the nursing home association encourages all patients and employees to take full advantage.
“Certainly the safety information we’ve seen from the manufacturer seems very promising. Also, the efficacy rate is very high, so that’s promising as well so we hope that our nursing home residents will give this serious consideration on whether or not to take the vaccine,” he said.
The vaccine is administered in two doses. Matson said the pharmacies will return to give the follow-up dose on schedule.
“We’re very hopeful that the covid-19 vaccine is the answer we’ve been waiting for to finally eradicate this disease from our buildings,” he said.