A ray of hope shone on the United States on December 11, 2020 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (also known as the novel coronavirus) vaccine for emergency use. A week later, the FDA also granted the Moderna vaccine emergency use authorization (EUA). Currently, the vaccines are limited in supply so health care workers and nursing home residents and staffers have been given priority.
Why Are Nursing Home Residents and Staff Being Prioritized?
As health experts have known since the early days of the pandemic, older populations are at a higher risk of suffering complications after contracting COVID-19. In fact, according to NBC, nursing home residents and staffers have constituted more than 39% of all the coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. Therefore, it is integral for this demographic to be vaccinated as a priority, as they have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
About the Vaccines and Distribution
The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care (LTC) Program was born as part of a massive effort to efficiently distribute the available stock of COVID-19 vaccines, easing some of the pressure off nursing homes and long-term care facilities and assisting state health departments in the process. For the LTC Program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has partnered with CVS, Walgreens, and Managed Health Care Associates, Inc. (MHA) to carry out these vaccinations on site — with three clinics at each site — so residents and staff do not have to travel to another facility.
Consent Must Be Obtained
In order to give a person the vaccine, the health care provider will first need to obtain written consent from the person receiving the vaccine, or if the person is unable to consent due to their physical or mental capacity, their responsible party can grant oral consent on their behalf.
Kindly note that neither the nursing home nor residents/staffers can opt for which vaccine they would like to receive.
Risks and Side Effects
Prior to receiving the vaccine, an individual or their responsible party will be given an Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers, which describes the benefits, risks, and side effects of the vaccine in detail. Some people have developed allergic reactions upon being vaccinated; the FDA advises against giving vaccines to individuals who have known allergies to any of their ingredients.
A Two-Dose Vaccination
The Pfizer-BioNTech is given in two doses about 21 days apart; a person must receive both doses for immunity to develop. The same is true for the Moderna vaccine, but the doses are given 28 days apart.
In addition to receiving a vaccine, people are advised, per the CDC, to take an antibody test to see whether their body develops an immune response (i.e. whether the vaccine was effective for them). However, this is still being researched by experts, as an antibody test could test positive (meaning you have antibodies against the coronavirus) due to a previous infection.
Is It Possible to Spread COVID-19 After Being Vaccinated?
It remains unknown whether someone who has received either of the vaccines can spread the coronavirus to other individuals. As such, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is not lifting any of the rules and regulations presently placed on nursing home facilities to prevent the virus’s spread, and the September 17, 2020 CMS guidance regarding visitation remains unchanged.
To date, more than 315,000 American lives have been lost due to COVID-19, but now there is a potential end to the pandemic in sight. The CDC and countless government officials urge people to continue to follow COVID-19 prevention guidelines until that end is reached.
About Ashcraft & Gerel
Ashcraft & Gerel represents Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia residents who have been severely injured by another party’s negligence, which includes nursing home residents who have suffered abuse and/or neglect from their caretakers at senior living facilities.
Contact Ashcraft & Gerel online or call us at (800) 674-9725 today.