The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) sent letters this week to White House Senior Advisor Andy Slavitt, White House Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity Cameron Webb, MD, and the National Governors Association requesting that long term care facilities remain a priority for the COVID-19 vaccines as the next phase of distribution begins.

As of March 11, more than 85 percent of nursing homes and nearly one-third of assisted living and other senior living communities have completed their third and final clinic through the Pharmacy Partnership Program for Long-Term Care.

Moving forward, these facilities need ongoing and rapid access to the vaccines to ensure that new and existing residents and staff have an opportunity to get vaccinated, AHCA/NCAL said.

The association, along with LeadingAge, Argentum, and American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), has requested that the Biden administration allocate between 50,000 and 75,000 doses per week to the long term care (LTC) pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

They also requested that priority allocations be designated for all older people who use long-term services and supports, and that provisions be made for providers that serve older people to host on-site clinics and serve homebound people, regardless of where they live, starting in April when more supply is available.

At the state level, AHCA/NCAL urged governors to:

• Allocate vaccines to the LTC pharmacies for administration to LTC facilities;

• Prioritize enrollment of LTC pharmacies as COVID-19 vaccine providers;

• Ensure priority access to state-run vaccination clinics for LTC staff;

• Allow COVID-19 vaccine single-shot syringes under state pharmacy requirements;

• Direct hospitals to immunize patients with the Janssen vaccine before discharge to a LTC facility; and

• Work with provider associations to ensure ongoing access to COVID-19 vaccine.

AHCA/NCAL continues to focus on increasing vaccine uptake, particularly among long term care staff. With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AHCA/NCAL expanded its #GetVaccinated campaign to educate and encourage staff to receive the vaccine.

The campaign will help AHCA/NCAL reach its nationwide goal of getting 75 percent of all nursing home staff vaccinated by June 30, the association said.