Workers, Residents Should Be Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccine, Senior Living Industry Representatives Say

September 3, 2020

The first available vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 should go to frontline healthcare workers — including those who work in assisted living communities — and first responders, according to draft recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 

Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, reiterated for the committee the organizations’ call for residents and staff members in long-term care to be prioritized to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

“Long-term care was forgotten at the start of the pandemic, but we cannot be forgotten now,” he said. “Ensuring long-term care residents and staff are among the first to receive a vaccine when it becomes available will help mitigate the risk and prevent further deaths.”

Although providers have taken “unprecedented action” to protect older adults, Parkinson said, research shows that a high rate of community spread “is all but certain to lead to outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living communities.”

“As long as the virus is a threat to the general public, it is a threat to our residents and staff,” he said. “If we can vaccinate long-term care residents and caregivers first, they will be less at risk in the event we see a rise in cases within our communities.”

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