At a public listening session organized by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Libing (AHCA/NCAL) President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Parkinson stressed the importance of getting a vaccine to long term care providers that have been on the front lines of the pandemic protecting one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations.

“Long term care was forgotten at the start of the pandemic, but we cannot be forgotten now,” he said. “Members of our country’s greatest generation and the brave men and women who keep them safe deserve our support. Ensuring long term care residents and staff are among the first to receive a vaccine when it becomes available will help mitigate the risk and prevent further deaths.”

NASEM’s final study on vaccine distribution will provide recommendations to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they consider initial allocation once a vaccine is available.

AHCA/NCAL said a recent Harris survey of more than 1,900 Americans revealed that the vast majority of Americans support providing the vaccine to high-risk individuals first. This includes seniors and those who care for them.

While long term care providers have taken unprecedented action to protect those in their care, research shows that a high rate of spread in a community is all but certain to lead to outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living communities.

“As long as the virus is a threat to the general public, it is a threat to our residents and staff,” Parkinson said. “If we can vaccinate long term care residents and caregivers first, they will be less at risk in the event we see a rise in cases within our communities.”

AHCA/NCAL said it will continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, NIH, and CDC to ensure those who most urgently need the protection of a vaccine are able to access it as soon as possible.​