Experts skeptical on how federal vaccine distribution plan will work for nursing home residents

Long-term care facilities account for about 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, despite making up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, and experts are worried the federal government's vaccine distribution program won't adequately protect the vulnerable population, CBS reports. 

Four concerns:  

1. Vaccination teams will have to make several stops at more than 15,000 nursing homes across the U.S., since many residents can't travel to outside locations. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses administered several weeks apart, so vaccination teams will have to make at least two stops across all nursing homes. 

2. The lack of federal coordination to vaccinate nursing home staff is leaving states to implement their own plans. California plans to vaccinate staff at the nursing homes, while Ohio is planning to have employees travel to one of 10 hospitals across the state. 

3. Potential vaccine side effects such as headaches and muscle pain could be difficult for nursing homes to manage. 

4. The national distribution plan puts CVS and Walgreens in charge of distributing vaccines, but many long-term care facilities are served by specialty pharmacies. While nursing homes had the option to opt out of the national program and work with their existing specialty pharmacy, some are worried they'll be passed over in the first vaccination round. CVS and Walgreens countered concerns that they would prioritize vaccine distribution with existing nursing home customers, saying they will administer vaccines to all facilities that select them. 

Despite the concerns, the Trump administration said 99 percent of all nursing homes have opted in to the federal distribution plan, according to CBS

 More articles on post-acute care:
87% of nursing home staff haven't completed COVID-19 training, CMS says
How 2 hospice execs are reimagining their workforce strategies
Best, worst scenarios for post-acute care in the next 24 months


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