The White House has announced nursing home staff can now administer COVID-19 omicron booster shots. As it cools down, the CDC is reporting higher-than-normal community levels of COVID-19 and influenza.
Those who are receiving care in nursing homes and other long-term care (LTC) facilities are at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and influenza, especially those with underlying health conditions.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, about 161,000 nursing home residents have died since the pandemic began. Nursing home residents make up about 15% of COVID-19 deaths out of more than 1 million reported deaths in the U.S. since 2020.
Katie Smith Sloan, the LeadingAge President, and CEO released a statement with the White House announcement, “is truly a positive step, and a demonstration of the good that results when government and providers collaborate to reach a shared goal: keeping older adults, professional caregivers, and communities safe.”
The “All Hands on Deck” campaign is proposed to “Waive the immunization, administration and reporting requirements for COVID bivalent vaccine in nursing homes and allow the LTC pharmacy to deliver the bivalent and SNF to administer the vaccine as they do with the influenza vaccine.”
These vaccines must be administered by a registered vaccine provider for both the federal and state reporting requirements. Most LTC facilities rely on pharmacies to deliver, administer, and report vaccinations. LTC facilities are facing many challenges, and one is the uptake of the government’s requirements for vaccine delivery. “While LTC pharmacies can deliver influenza vaccine the same day as ordered, they can’t deliver the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine in the same manner, because they must administer the vaccine or subcontract the responsibility to another entity.”
But, they propose to waive the administration, immunization, and reporting requirements for the COVID-19 vaccine in nursing homes, and to now allow the LTC pharmacy to deliver and administer the vaccines like they do with the influenza vaccine.
“Vaccinations, particularly the COVID-19 vaccination and booster shot, are extremely important for people to get, especially in older adults and those with underlying conditions. This new proposal from the White House will hopefully impede steps to help prevent the illness.” – Saba Ansari, VP of Clinical Services.