AZDHS: Nursing Homes To Get COVID Vaccine Week Of Dec. 27

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Friday, December 11, 2020 - 5:14pm
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021 - 12:35pm

Residents and staff at long-term care facilities will begin getting vaccinated for the coronavirus starting Dec. 27. That’s what the head of the Arizona Department of Health Services told a handful of reporters on Friday.

The wait for the coronavirus vaccine is almost over.

"So we're very excited that we had a large number of our long term care facilities throughout Arizona sign up for the CDC pharmacy partnership for long term care," said Dr. Cara Christ, head of DHS. She’s talking about the CDC’s distribution program, which involves pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS coming to facilities to administer the first of two vaccine doses. 

"And to date over 2000 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities intend to participate in the program," she said.

Roughly 40% of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, yet the vaccine is not mandatory at this point. 

Long-term care facilities have always suffered from staffing shortages, even before the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has compounded the issue. While some see the arrival of vaccines as a light at the end of the tunnel, there are concerns it could lead to staff calling out sick due to the potential side effects. 

"So we are looking here at the department because we are hearing that that is a potential barrier," she said. "One of the things that the pharmacy program will be doing is staggering when they go so the first dose at a specific facility will be rolled out over multiple days. So they're not doing the entire facility in just one day."

Residents in long-term care are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Christ says the first of two doses of the vaccine will be ready to go starting Dec. 27.

Coronavirus Aging