Health officials in some areas are turning their focus to vaccinating short-stay nursing home residents in an effort to halt a potential surge in cases and deaths. 

Connecticut state officials this week, for example, announced a push to inoculate new, short-term residents, which make up about about a quarter of the population at nursing homes statewide, according to a report by the CT Mirror.

The effort, called Operation Matchmaker, will pair each nursing home in the state with a pharmacy or other provider to ensure vaccinations can continue on an ongoing basis — placing an emphasis on vaccinating new residents and staff. The hope is that the state will have a sufficient supply of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine available to make the plan work. 

Officials also are setting up several “catch-up” clinics that will allow anyone who missed their chance to be vaccinated through the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program to do so.  They also intend to pair nursing homes with vaccine partners, they said.

In addition, the state will encourage hospitals to ensure they’re vaccinating residents who are being discharged. 

Long-term care providers most commonly are reporting that they’ve been isolating new residents to ensure they’re COVID-19 negative before integrating them into the main parts of their facilities. They called the state’s plans for short-stay residents and catch-up clinics “a relief.” 

“This is our most critical need,” Bill White, owner of Beechwood Post-Acute & Transitional Care Center in New London, CT, told the news organization. “Absent that, it continues to be a bit of a crapshoot. If we really want to have stability, keep people safe and keep our businesses moving forward and growing again, we need to be able to rely on that.”

A similar effort to keep vaccinations at nursing homes going after the federal program was completed was announced in Ohio in mid-February.