Nursing home residents and staff are near the front of the line to receive the estimated 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses California expects to distribute by the end of this year. Long-term care and nursing facilities have seen deadly outbreaks. Earlier this year, the California Healthcare Foundation studied outbreaks in nursing homes and found that in May, a quarter of nursing homes had a resident with coronavirus infections and at 16% of them, at least one resident had died from complications of COVID-19. By August, those numbers had spiked: 66% of the facilities studied had at least one case, and at least one resident had died of COVID-19 in 37% of facilities.
Now, vaccines are arriving in California and doses will be administered at nursing homes soon through a government partnership with pharmacy giants CVS and Walgreens, whose staffs will deliver vaccines to long term care facilities. Eric Dowdy, chief government affairs officer at Leading Age California, an organization representing mostly nonprofit senior care facilities, said the top priority for those planning the vaccine rollout is improving confidence in the vaccine, in part by combating misinformation that fuels mistrust.
“The pipeline, getting the vaccines to the facilities, that’s all going to happen. The supply is going to get ramped up and we’re not going to have issues with the vaccine being available. It’s just a matter of getting people to realize that it’s worthwhile taking, and that they’re not putting their life at risk doing so. And it’s very important. Really, at this point it’s our only way out of this pandemic so it’s crucial that people take this vaccine when it’s offered.”— Eric Dowdy