Potential vaccine availability to nursing home residents a sign of hope

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
FILE – In this March 16, 2020, file photo, pharmacist Michael Witte holds a tray with a syringe containing a shot that will be used in the first clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. An influential scientific panel on Tuesday, Dec. 1, is set to tackle one of the most pressing questions in the U.S. coronavirus epidemic: When the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine become available, who should be at the front of the line for shots? (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

There is a sign of hope for people living in nursing homes. Their lives were turned upside down because of the pandemic. Now, a vaccine will be available to them.

We learned more Friday about why it’s important to get this vaccine to the most vulnerable, as vaccines for the coronavirus could be good to go Dec. 21.

“Having the vaccine on the horizon is something that, you know, it does give us hope because we’ve all been working so hard to try to make sure our seniors are taken care of,” said Kristen Knapp, the director of communications with Florida Healthcare Association (FHCA).

FHCS represents a majority of the nursing centers in Florida. Their residents are at the top of the governor’s list to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Knapp told us they’re close to finalizing how people will get vaccinated.

“Essentially the pharmacies will come to our buildings and develop and set up an onsite immunization clinic, where they’ll have a team of their pharmacists immunize our residents,” Knapp explained.

But there’s still a lot unknown about a vaccine.

“I think the biggest questions that we continue to have are the number of doses, obviously,” said Steve Bahmer, the president and CEO of LeadingAge Florida. “It’s still not clear which vaccine we’re even talking about while we wait for emergency use authorization of some vaccines.”

CVS and Walgreens will meet with the FDA next week to talk about the emergency authorization of the vaccine from both Pfizer and Moderna.

The Trump administration picked the two drugstore chains because they have more than 20,000 locations combined nationwide. Critics fear they are not the best option to serve people in low-income or minority communities.

Having a vaccine available is half the battle. The CDC said, even after you get a shot, you must wear a mask and social distance.

“I think it is fair to expect that there won’t be 100% uptake of the vaccine,” Bahmer said.

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