Image of David Gifford, M.D.
David Gifford, M.D., chief medical officer, AHCA/NCAL

The expanded authorization of COVID-19 vaccines is a big plus for long-term care facility residents, staff and operators, a leading industry advocate’s chief clinician said Friday.

“All long-term care residents and staff members will now be eligible to receive a booster shot thanks to these expanded recommendations,” said David Gifford, M.D., chief medical officer of American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, in a statement. “Additionally, the ability to mix-and-match vaccines for the booster dose will make it easier for long-term care facilities to swiftly access these vaccines for their residents and staff.”

Gifford applauded the decisions made by federal health agencies last week to greenlight the use of Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines for booster shots. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has endorsed guidelines that include additional shots for the vulnerable with whichever vaccine is readily available.

The rollout of the Pfizer booster shot in long-term care has “gone incredibly well,” Gifford added. “And we are confident that adding Moderna and Johnson & Johnson into the mix will catapult our efforts [to increase access].”

Gifford further praised partnerships between federal and state governments, long-term care pharmacies and other vaccine providers to make vaccination efforts in nursing homes and assisted living communities “efficient and successful.” 

In related news:

CDC director backs booster shots for long-term care residents, workers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., on Thursday endorsed expert guidance for administering COVID-19 booster shots to a wide swath of Americans. The recommendations cover all adults aged 65 years and older, and adults aged 18 years and older who live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions and who work or live in high-risk settings, such as LTC staff members. Guidance from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration includes a third shot for those who previously received two doses of mRNA vaccines at least six months ago. In addition, for the nearly 15 million adults who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots also are for those who were vaccinated two or more months ago. No matter the original vaccine administered, a booster dose can come from any of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC stated.