Indiana long term care facilities prepare for COVID-19 vaccine

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FILE PHOTO: A small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine” sticker is held near a medical syringe in front of displayed “Coronavirus COVID-19” words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo

INDIANAPOLIS – Long term care facilities in Indiana are gearing up for a COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare workers and residents of these centers will be the first to get a shot once the first doses arrive.

The president of IHCA, Zach Cattell, said he had a planning call with ISDH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver this week and hundreds of long term care professionals were also on the call to hear the latest news.

The Indiana Health Care Association, or IHCA, expects when the vaccine comes to Indiana long term care professionals will be able to go to a local hospital to be vaccinated. Shortly thereafter, vaccine clinics will be started inside of nursing facilities for residents and staff that are willing to get the vaccine.

“As we understand it, the first doses Indiana will get is the Pfizer vaccine and that is the ultra-cold storage, the -80 to 90 below,” said Cattell. “Because of the difficulty around handling that vaccine and storing it properly, we understand that will be done at the hospital and long term care professionals will be able to go to the hospitals.”

Cattell explained the clinics are either going to be run by CVS or Walgreens through Operation Warp Speed.

“We are still learning the fundamentals of what will happen on the ground. There are meetings even going on (Friday) about how the pharmacies will come to the facilities themselves and access willing residents and staff that don’t get vaccine at hospitals,” he said.

Cattell said it is still unclear how many residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities will decide to get vaccinated and IHCA is still not sure how many doses Indiana will receive at first.

“We are excited about having the vaccine,” he said. “We hope it will deliver all the promises that we are hearing about.”

As of Friday, more than half of the total COVID-19 deaths in Indiana were attributed to residents of long term care facilities in Indiana.

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