Image of Ruth Link-Gelles, Ph.D.; Image credit: CDC

Ensuring steady access to COVID-19 vaccines is crucial to maintaining high vaccination coverage in long-term care residents and staff during the pandemic, a new investigation of the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program suggests.

This unprecedented public-private vaccination program facilitated on-site clinics in long-term care facilities nationwide after COVID-19 vaccines were first federally approved in December 2020. Investigators estimated the vaccine uptake in assisted living communities and other residential care facilities during the program by using data estimates on the cumulative number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered and number of beds. 

In assisted living communities, a median of 67 residents and 32 staff members per 100 beds received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the first on-site clinic. In residential care facilities, a median of eight residents and five staff members per 10 beds received a first dose at the first clinic. Among three states with available assisted living resident census data, the median resident first-dose uptake at the first clinic was 93% in Connecticut, 85% in Georgia and 78% in Tennessee, the researchers reported. 

Notably, cumulative first-dose vaccine uptake increased as social vulnerability related to housing type and transportation increased, Ruth Link-Gelles, Ph.D., from the CDC’s COVID-19 Response Team wrote.

On-site clinics may help to increase vaccine uptake, particularly when transportation may be a barrier, Link-Gelles and colleagues concluded.

“Ensuring steady access to COVID-19 vaccine in LTCFs following the conclusion of the Pharmacy Partnership is critical to maintaining high vaccination coverage among residents and staff,” they said. 

The study was published in JAMDA.