PHILADELPHIA, PA - 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 recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for certain groups of individuals, including residents and health care workers in long-term care.
FDA for Approving a Pfizer Booster Shot for Long Term Care Residents, Workers
The following statement is attributable to Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer of AHCA/NCAL:
On behalf of the long-term care industry, we appreciate the FDA and CDC for recognizing the threat of waning COVID-19 immunity and high-risk exposure. The FDA and CDC’s review of the data reiterate how incredibly effective and safe the COVID-19 vaccines are and how the booster shot will help continue to keep our residents and staff safe. This decision is another layer of protection needed to fight this virus that uniquely targets our vulnerable long-term care population.
Long-term care facilities stand ready to help facilitate booster shots to those residents and staff who received the Pfizer vaccine earlier this year. Virtually all nursing homes and some assisted living communities already have steady access to COVID-19 vaccines through a long-term care pharmacy. We anticipate the booster shot process will be fairly straightforward. The vaccines will be available quickly for these providers.
For those assisted living communities and other senior living settings that may not have a relationship with a long-term care pharmacy, we appreciate the federal government helping many of these providers connect with a specific local pharmacy or vaccine provider. We also call on state governments to help coordinate the distribution and administration of booster shots to these senior living settings.
Long-term care facilities are diverse, so a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for a booster shot rollout. We must consider things like the size and location of the facility, the acuity of the residents, the number of new admissions, and more. AHCA/NCAL continues to engage with public health officials to help advise and streamline administering booster shots considering these factors.
We also recognize that we must continue to increase vaccination rates, especially among our long-term care workers. These efforts have never waned, and we continue to make progress every day. The data also shows that cases in nursing homes will persist when community transmission is high. Therefore, we need a collective approach to improve vaccine confidence and uptake in every community.