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COVID vaccine to be distributed to Louisiana nursing homes before end of year

Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 9:39 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Food and Drug Administration, on Friday, authorized the coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna for emergency use.

This week, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced state nursing home residents are next in line for COVID-19 vaccines. Gov. Edwards said Louisiana will begin administering the vaccine before the end of the year.

COVID-19 has impacted millions of Americans but some of the hardest hit are those in nursing homes. Now that a vaccine is on the way, local facilities are awaiting its arrival.

“They’re ready to just get it so they can kind of get back to normal; it’s been a really long year so they’re excited,” Executive Director of Stonebridge Place Ashlee Guidry said. “I know their loved ones are excited as well so they can join; we love them like they’re our family but there’s still nothing the same like their own.”

Guidry said residents have been excited to receive a vaccine for months now. The facility is now partnering with a local pharmacy to distribute the vaccine to residents and employees as soon as the start of the year.

“We’re actually setup with CVS to do an on-sight clinic so they would actually come out and administer them themselves,” she said. “They’re going to allot us three clinic dates.”

As for any objections towards the vaccine, she said there really aren’t any.

“I want them to do what they’re going to feel comfortable with and like I said I haven’t seen very many here that aren’t ready and willing when it gets here,” she said.

The Louisiana Nursing Home Association (LNHA) Executive Director Mark Berger released a statement on the COVID-19 vaccine:

“The Louisiana Nursing Home Association (LNHA) is eager for the COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed to Louisiana’s nursing facilities. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has designated the Moderna vaccine for the nursing home population and nursing facility staff and residents should have access to the vaccine by the end of December. LNHA encourages as many residents and staff as possible to get this vaccine as it has been shown to provide a great deal of protection against serious illness due to COVID-19. Our focus remains on protecting Louisiana’s most vulnerable quickly and effectively during this pandemic.”

7News reached out to AARP for their take on a vaccine for nursing home residents. AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy A. LeaMond issued the following statement in response to ongoing COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution planning:

“COVID has taken a devastating toll on the country, with a disproportionate impact on the 65+, people who live in nursing homes and those who care for them, front line workers, and racial and ethnic minorities. It’s a national tragedy. Of the nearly 280,000 lives lost to date, more than 70% have been over the age of 65 and around 40% have been residents and staff in nursing homes.

“We are encouraged by the progress on the development and distribution of COVID vaccines. As we enter this important next phase, AARP is calling on state and federal policymakers to put in place transparent, evidence-based plans that prioritize safety and protections, particularly for those at highest risk. Vaccines must be safe, effective, affordable and widely accessible. Once they are authorized or approved, there must be full transparency about adverse events, side effects, and effectiveness, especially among the most vulnerable populations.

“AARP urges states to clearly communicate their distribution plans and engage with higher-risk groups to hear and address their concerns. Vaccines must be allocated equitably and plans need to be in place to vaccinate hard-to-reach communities, including people in rural areas and populations that historically have had less access to health care.

“When vaccines are available, Americans should talk with their health providers to decide what is best for them. It is also critical to remember that even with a vaccine, prevention measures such as wearing masks and practicing physical distancing remain essential to slowing the spread and negative impact of the coronavirus.

“AARP is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our nearly 38 million members and all Americans – and we must come together in our efforts to defeat this virus.”

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