​​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 won strong praise from the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and chief executive officer, said, “On behalf of our long term care industry, we applaud the ACIP for prioritizing our residents and caregivers for the first distribution of the COVID vaccine.

“More than 100,000 long term care residents have died from this virus in the U.S., and our nursing homes are now experiencing the worst outbreak of new cases since last spring, with more than 2,000 residents succumbing to this virus each week.”

Parkinson said given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of the virus, combined with the explosion of community spread across the United States, the long term care (LTC) profession, including assisted living communities as well as nursing homes, is extremely hopeful vaccine(s) “will literally be a lifesaver for thousands of residents and expedite the reopening of our facilities to family members and loved ones.”

“Now it is up to the governors and state health agencies to implement these recommendations and ensure our long term care residents and staff are prioritized in the actual rollout of the vaccine to provide this protection as soon as possible,” Parkinson stressed.

The long term care industry called on governors from all 50 states “to ensure long term care residents and staff are the first group to receive the vaccine within this initial Phase ‘1A’ distribution to save as many lives as possible.”

For more information from AHCA/NCAL on COVID-related issues, visit www.ahcancal.org/coronavirus.