The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released the following statement in response to the decision by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to include long-term care residents and staff, including nursing homes and assisted living communities, for the first round “1a” of vaccine distribution.

The following statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL:

“On behalf of our long-term industry, we applaud the ACIP for prioritizing our residents and caregivers for the first distribution of the COVID vaccine.

“More than 100,000 long-term care residents have died from this virus in the U.S., and our nursing homes are now experiencing the worst outbreak of new cases since last spring with more than 2,000 residents succumbing to this virus each week. 

“Given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of this virus combined with the explosion of community spread across the U.S., we are extremely hopeful this vaccine will literally be a lifesaver for thousands of residents and expedite the reopening of our facilities to family members and loved ones.

“Now it is up to the governors and state health agencies to implement these recommendations and ensure our long-term care residents and staff are prioritized in the actual rollout of the vaccine to provide this protection as soon as possible.

“The long-term care industry, including nursing homes and assisted living communities, now call on governors from all 50 states to ensure long-term care residents and staff are the first group to receive the vaccine within this initial Phase ‘1a’ distribution to save as many lives as possible.” 

For more information please visit www.ahcancal.org/coronavirus

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As previously reported, The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), LeadingAge, Argentum and the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) released the following joint statement Tuesday regarding distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine:

“Since the start of the pandemic, heroic caregivers in long-term care and senior living communities have done everything in their power to protect our most vulnerable citizens. In the early months, essential resources such as personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and staffing support were directed toward hospitals and other health care sectors, leaving nursing homes, assisted living and senior living communities and other long-term care providers pleading for help.

“Government reports correctly identified all long-term care residents and staff for priority distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. It is critical that policymakers at all levels maintain that position as these products come online and are delivered across the country.

“The lack of prioritization for long-term care and seniors housing at the outset of the pandemic led to devastating losses, and we cannot let that happen again. Vulnerable older adults and the frontline workers who protect them deserve the full support of the public health sector. Ensuring residents and staff in all long-term care and senior living settings are among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will help limit the spread of this deadly virus and prevent further tragedies. We also want to get residents out enjoying social activities and seeing their loved ones again. A vaccine is one critical step toward that goal.

“This is especially important with the new surge of COVID-19 cases nationwide. Independent research from our country’s most prestigious universities shows that a high rate of spread within a community will likely lead to outbreaks in long-term care. We are seeing this unfold now, as cases among the general public and nursing homes hit record numbers. Distributing a vaccine to long-term care and senior living residents and staff first will give us another line of defense against this deadly virus if cases rise within their surrounding communities.”

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long-term or post-acute care in member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org or www.ncal.org.