During the COVID-19 pandemic, no group suffers more suffering than the staff and residents of nursing homes, where high concentrations of seniors with serious health problems provide an ideal killer for the virus.
Experts across the country say that efforts to vaccinate people in these houses are still proceeding at a frustratingly slow pace.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Friday, only about 17% of the 4 million vaccine doses allocated to long-term care facilities have been injected.
“Obviously no one cares whether the elderly will die,” said Michael Wasserman, the medical director of the Eisenberg Country Nursing Home in Reseda and the former president of Asc, California. Representatives of long-term care medicine, representing doctors, nurses and other personnel working in nursing homes. “If we take the right approach, we can quickly vaccinate all these places.”
Wasserman accused the federal government of failing to develop a streamlined plan and directly monitor vaccine delivery.
Instead, the key decision of who gets the vaccine first is left to the state and local governments, while the actual management of the injection is left to the large national pharmacy chains (CVS and Walgreens), which have a different relationship with nursing services. As a professional pharmacy that has served the industry.
David Grabowski, a professor of medical policy at Harvard Medical School, said the slow rollout “is definitely the cause of the alarm.” “I think, like many other parts of the pandemic, the federal government’s response was too slow.”
Bureaucracy is one of the obstacles: filling out forms and uploading data to ensure consent is obtained and the large amount of labor required to track each dose.
Jeff Sprinkle, administrator of the Minnetonka Lake Care Center, said: “This is crazy. The Minnetonka Lake Care Center in Dephaven, Minnesota has only about 20 residents. When a staff member showed up to manage the injections in late December, they had 6 Individuals, taking into account the requirements of social distance, these products can be safely installed in a small lounge for vaccination. Sprinkle said that only three of these people are there “enter information into their database.”
Sprinkle said it took 7½ hours for the team to vaccinate everyone, and this task could have been done by a nurse without all the paperwork.
And because the vaccine is injected in batches, after everyone who is eligible for the first round of injections has been vaccinated, about eight doses remain.
Sprinkle said: “I thought about vaccinating my family and then vaccinating my wife, but I think this is news and will make us condemned.” Instead, the dose was wasted.
Another obstacle is the surprising degree of hesitation among nursing home staff about vaccines. A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation last month found that 29% of health care workers across the country “hesitate to be vaccinated,” which is slightly higher than 27% of the total population.
Grabowski said: “In this pandemic, we did not treat our employees well.”
Approximately 40% of COVID-19 deaths across the country are caused by residents and staff in long-term care facilities, but workers have long lacked the masks, gloves and nightgowns needed to protect them from the virus. Most people Even if they did some of the most dangerous jobs, they refused to pay hazard pay.
Grabowski said: “I think they are very distrustful now.” “I understand why they might not be in a hurry to move forward.”
Another factor that delays deployment is the number of active cases in nursing homes, which have been steadily increasing as the number of the general public increases after the holidays.
Dr. Christian Bergman, an academic gerontologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, said: “If there was a nursing home with 100 residents last week and 20 were vaccinated with COVID, they might choose not to get the vaccine.” “You They will not be able to monitor any adverse events and they will most likely receive 90 days of protection, so we will not provide it to those people.”
Bergman said that the life-saving vaccine was not used in Virginia until December 28, and then suddenly stopped on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, slowing down from the beginning.
Despite the malfunction, most houses in the state hope to start their first medication in mid-January. Bergman said: “This will help stop proliferation.”
To date, it has been difficult to obtain data to record the progress of vaccine work in nursing homes in California. Health officials in the state and Los Angeles County did not respond to requests for figures on Friday afternoon.
Obviously, no one cares whether the elderly will die.
Dr. Michael Wasserman, medical director of the Eisenberg Village Nursing Home in Reseda.
But interviews with local industry experts show that things in California are not progressing faster than the rest of the United States.
Raffaela Meyer, vice president of operations at a skilled nursing pharmacy that specializes in providing medicines to nursing homes in California, said there are problems throughout the state.
So far, her company has not started to administer vaccines, but many of her clients said that they did not plan to start the first dose of vaccines until the end of January. In Los Angeles County, in order to directly deal with the vaccine, public health officials chose to withdraw from the program through CVS and Walgreens, while housing faced the opposite problem.
“We have hundreds of extra doses in many nursing homes in Los Angeles County,” Meyer said. Once opened, the shelf life of these vaccines will be very limited, and the nursing homes don’t know what to do.
“I call Los Angeles County every week; they don’t have any answers. [state health officials], They do not know. “Meyer said.
Most houses that use extra doses are skilled nursing facilities, where the highest level of medical care personnel is required.
Like the staff in first-line hospitals, they are the top priority in obtaining vaccines because the virus has brought devastating losses to the local area.
Wasserman said one way to use their extra doses is to share them with assisted living facilities. The residents of these living facilities are older and have almost the same condition, but were not included in the first group of people who received the vaccine.
Wasserman said: “They are now on fire due to new cases.” He fears that the frustration caused by the delay will lead to pressure to distribute vaccines to the public before state and local governments even begin to vaccinate people in assisted living facilities.
Wasserman said: “So, who is pushed to the back seat of the bus? The elderly and poor women of color will take care of them.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.