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Federal officials said more infection control and prevention guidance regarding COVID-19 could be coming for nursing homes in the next several days. They also said they don’t expect the pause of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine to be an interruption to ongoing clinics at long-term care facilities and pharmacies. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials on Wednesday announced the agency could release updated guidance “as early as this Friday” on what nursing home personnel and residents can do after their federal vaccination clinics have concluded.

“This will include addressing things like visitation, group activities and testing, so look for more information on that to come very soon,” Kara Jacobs-Slifka, MD, MPH, with the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the CDC, said during a nursing home stakeholder conference call. 

Hosted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the call included updates from officials on several issues, including the J&J pause and Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.

The federal pharmacy partnership program, which was launched in December, is slated to end within the next two weeks. More than 63,000 long-term care facilities enrolled in the program and about 7.8 million doses will have been administered to staff and residents.

Officials stressed that vaccines will continue to be widely available to facilities through existing long-term care pharmacies after the program ends. 

“We’d suggest that if facilities are having troubles getting vaccines, the first place I would talk to would be your existing long-term care pharmacy. After that, we do have a list on [the CDC’s] website of all LTC pharmacies that are participating in the federal [Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination] and receiving vaccine through that program,” Ruth Link-Gelles, an epidemiologist with the CDC, said Wednesday. 

Providers also can reach out to any of the LTC pharmacies in their jurisdiction that are receiving and administering COVID vaccine. Link-Gelles said many of those pharmacies are willing to provide the vaccine to facilities that are not their normal customers. 

“If that doesn’t work out for you, I would also suggest talking to your state department of health as they are also able to provide vaccines directly to facilities,” she added. 

With regards to J&J pause, federal officials said they have been able to replace those doses with Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at long-term care pharmacies. 

“We don’t expect an interruption in vaccine availability to LTC pharmacies or long-term care facilities themselves. Pending the [Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices] discussion and decision on Friday, we’ll move forward and make some decisions about the J&J vaccine versus Moderna or Pfizer for maintenance vaccines moving forward for long-term care facilities,” Link-Gelles added.