Long-term care facilities in Idaho start receiving COVID vaccine

Posted at 3:31 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 09:32:42-05

Long-term care facilities in Idaho started receiving COVID-19 vaccine doses Monday.

According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's Dec. 24 weekly summary of COVID-19 cases, deaths in long-term care facilities, there are just over 400 long-term care facilities in Idaho, and overall, there have been 300 outbreaks with about 7,491 total cases.

Long term care facility residents and staff and health care workers are in phase 1A of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

"The important part is, is that we're at this point where we're going to be able to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," Cascadia Healthcare Director of Corporate Affairs Steve LaForte said.

The pharmacy partnership program for long-term care facilities, including CVS and Walgreens, distributes the COVID-19 vaccines across the country and Idaho.

Cascadia Healthcare is one of the long-term care facilities receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Out of their 18 locations, only one is expected to receive the vaccine this week on Wednesday.

IDHW told Idaho News 6 that each of the just over 400 long term care facilities in Idaho would receive the vaccine when available.

"The hope that this represents and the ability to get beyond the continual crisis situation that we've had for nine, ten months and the fear and the anxiety is so great," LaForte said.

According to CDC guidelines, 7,00 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were set aside for Idaho's program last week. Still, Cascadia Healthcare says it has been unclear and just how many doses they will receive for residents and staff.

"Our first little rollout, it looked like we were going to be short on dosage for the number of patients we have in the facility and the number of staff that works there. So, we made a call back to the pharmacy and said, 'are you sure you counted right for us?' And so, they assured us they would be sending more, but we have no idea what that number will be," Cascadia Healthcare Director of Clinical, Zendi Meharry said.

Regardless, the staff says that residents are eager to see family as soon as they can.

"It really all focuses around the whole family thing. It's kind of interesting. There's nobody I hear that says 'because I want to live a long life.' That's not it. They are all talking about the here and now and what the immediate piece is and where they can be connected with others," Meharry said.

IDHW says the vaccine will continue to roll out to priority groups, depending on how many vaccines doses the state receives and how many people decide to get it.

IDHW also told Idaho News 6, "the Idaho immunization program is also ensuring that vaccine from the state's allocation of doses is available for long-term care facilities that did not choose to participate in the pharmacy partnership program and instead chose to be vaccinated by providers other than CVS and Walgreens."