Some experts are doubting how successful the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination plans for long-term care facilities will be, citing concerns about the strategy for workers and potential side effects.
“The way the government has approached the vaccination distribution for nursing homes has been keeping me up at night,” geriatrician Michael Wasserman, M.D., told CBS News.
“The government has rolled out a plan without engaging with people who have knowledge of how to care for this population,” he added. “I am exceedingly skeptical that implementation will go smoothly.”
Federal health officials revealed last week that 99% of skilled nursing facilities have opted into the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, which will provide the medication to the facilities at no cost. Authorities also expect to have 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines ready for distribution, pending FDA authorization, by the end of December. This comes amid reports of two potential vaccines, with one showing 95% efficacy.
The plan may sound foolproof on the surface but experts noted that the current restrictions will require vaccination teams to travel to and inside nursing homes — likely for multiple visits. That could present a new level of difficulty, according to the CBS report.
They also noted that while the federal government has focused much of its efforts on nursing home residents, vaccination plans for staff members are being left up to the states and could make it harder for them to get access to the medication.
Experts also questioned the potential side effects that vaccines might pose and explained that it could be difficult for nursing homes to manage both them and ill residents.
This story has been updated.