As nursing home and assisted living community residents and employees remain poised to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, home care providers are curious to find out when it will be their turn.
“It’s still very much up in the air,” said Dave Totaro, chief government affairs officer for Bayada Home Health Care, which operates in 23 states. “We don’t know when or where. We don’t even know how we’re going to be notified.”
Meanwhile, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Sunday recommended that adults aged 75 or more years, as well as frontline essential workers, be the second large group to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.
Although most states have placed home care nurses and aides in their 1a top priority group, along with other high-risk medical workers and those who work or live in nursing homes and assisted living communities, they have not been as clear on their plans for the home care group. Vaccinating home care workers presents logistical challenges not inherent in nursing homes, assisted living communities and hospitals, places where large groups more easily can be vaccinated. As a result, distribution plans vary from state to state.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for example, offer two different approaches on vaccinating home care workers. New Jersey’s plan is fairly well organized, wheras Pennsylvania’s is not, said Stephanie Kulak, corporate clinical director for Preferred Home Health Care Nursing Services, which has about 4,000 employees that work with clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Kulak, who has been told that the vaccines could be available within two weeks in New Jersey, said she looks forward to pharmacy technicians giving shots at her agency’s offices there. And Nancy Fitterer, president and CEO of the Home Care and Hospice Association of New Jersey, said that home care agencies likely are to get the Moderna vaccine because of the more flexible handling requirements.
Teri Henning, CEO of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, said she talks with the state Department of Health every day about the logistics of vaccinating the state’s more than 183,000 home care workers. She hopes to have information this week.