All long term care facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living communities need to be first to receive the COVID vaccine given the fact more than 100,000 long term care residents have died from the virus and are now experiencing the worst outbreak of new cases since last spring, according to a letter sent to the National Governors Association (NGA) and state governors by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

The communication to NGA and governors comes after the decision on Dec. 1 by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to include long term care residents and staff in the first round “1A” of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, along with health care workers.

AHCA/NCAL said it is extremely hopeful approved vaccines will “literally be a lifesaver” for thousands of residents and expedite the reopening of facilities to family members and loved ones given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of this virus, combined with the outbreak of community spread across the United States.

“An expediated rollout of the vaccine for our long term care residents and caregivers is vitally important given the level of COVID in our community and in long term care facilities right now,” the association said. 

“A one-month delay in administering the vaccine at long term care facilities could cost more than 10,000 of our residents their lives. The speed at which states can vaccinate our residents has significant life or death consequences.”
Signed by Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL, and Scott Tittle, executive director of NCAL, the letter also said the long term care industry, including nursing homes and assisted living communities, urges governors to direct their public health agencies to ensure long term care residents and staff are the first group to receive the vaccine within the initial Phase 1A distribution.
“We know our collective priority is the well-being of our most vulnerable and our health care heroes, and by working together we can protect them through this pandemic,” the letter said.

Here is a link to a pdf version of the letter.