KENTUCKY Ky. — Pharmacies will soon be offering vaccination clinics at Kentucky nursing homes in a matter of weeks.
Nursing home residents across Kentucky are on standby as they wait to receive the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine which could happen in as little as two weeks.
Kentucky is prioritizing health care workers and long term care facilities in the first rollout.
"There’s been a lot of uncertainty, there’s been a lot of fear. We’ve been trying to navigate it as closely as possible,” says Robert Rivera who is an administrator with Eastern Star Home in Louisville.
The vaccine could not come soon enough for Rivera. He says nine residents have contracted the virus and one person died as a result.
He said, "When the vaccines starting coming to fruition it kind of gave some sense of relief. You could that even tell in the building that a big exhale has gone through."
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research organization, long term care facilities have been linked to more than 100,000 deaths from the disease since November.
“Everybody kind of has to weigh the pros and cons for themselves. Now for our residents, it’s a fairly easy decision because of their condition. If you’re a person weighing risk and reward, in their instance it’s no brainer,” says Rivera.
The Commonwealth is in the process of distributing more than 38,000 vaccine doses in the first round of shipments from the federal government.
Of those, the state plans to distribute 25,350 to long term facilities through a partnership between CVS and Walgreens.
“They are very fragile and at this stage in their life they deserve the best care possible so they should be in front of the line because they’ve experienced the most in this world,” says Rivera.
Rivera says his facility has signed up with Walgreens to administer the shots to all the residents and staff who want them. Walgreens will come back a month later and give them booster shot,
He adds that their facility will not mandate the vaccine.
“We’re going to give people the information and they make an informed decision and they're accountable for that decision,” explains Rivera.
Members of the long term community are hoping the vaccine will bring an eventual turn to normalcy. However, they say vaccinations should not be an instant cue to halt social distancing measures.
“I don’t want people to say, 'Well we’ve got the vaccine so now I can go running around willy nilly.' I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think we need to continue with the very strict protocols in place and of course, we’re just adding the vaccine to that.
Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy both say they expect to get their first doses of the vaccine on December 21.