Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout continues to raise questions, concerns for long-term care providers
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Concerned with the prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccine, Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) president and CEO, Zach Shamberg, testified before a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing today to address ongoing challenges facing long-term care providers now, and in the coming months.
“Every day without a vaccine in our long-term care communities is one more day in which we risk the lives of our most vulnerable residents,” said Shamberg.
Currently, less than 20 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine distributed to Pennsylvania has been allocated for the vulnerable residents and frontline workers in nursing homes, assisted living communities and personal care homes––the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of prioritization has created a cause for alarm.
“Not one long-term care resident or staff member received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine until Monday, Dec. 28––a full two weeks after Pennsylvania’s hospitals received their doses. That is the same day West Virginia completed its first round of vaccinations for all long-term care residents and staff,” said Shamberg during his testimony. “Why would long-term care be forced to wait for a remedy to a virus that has devastated thousands?”
Shamberg raised questions regarding additional concerns during his testimony that will impact the long-term care community if not addressed by the state:
- After the federal pharmacy partnership ends, what is the state’s plan to vaccinate long-term care residents and staff, including new hires, as well as new patients and residents?
- When will reopening and visitation guidance be released for providers?
- Independent research has informed us that community spread of COVID-19 equals a greater likelihood of spread in our long-term care facilities. What is the plan for mass/community vaccination?
“PHCA has been inundated with emails and phone calls from the concerned family members of our residents, asking, ‘When will my loved one be vaccinated?’, and ‘What can we do to speed up this process?,’” Shamberg shared. “While we attempt to answer those questions during this initial rollout, our state’s leaders must work and think ahead to address upcoming and ongoing challenges.”
This was the second hearing on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in less than one week in which Shamberg testified. On Thursday, he delivered testimony and answered questions before a joint hearing of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and Aging and Youth Committee (see video below).
Click here to download video testimony with Senate Health and Human Services Committee and Aging and Youth Committee.