Arkansas nursing homes prepare to deploy booster shots

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ARKANSAS (KNWA / KFTA) – The FDA and CDC have given the go-ahead to distribute booster shots to certain high-risk populations, including the elderly.

The Arkansas Health Care Association (AHCA) oversees more than 300 long-term care facilities and nursing homes in the state. They tell us that plans are underway to start rolling out the booster at their facilities as quickly as possible.

The recall is approved for residents of long-term care facilities and for healthcare workers. It is important to note that this only affects those who have received the Pfizer vaccine. They would receive the booster 6 months after completing the two-dose series.

AHCA, Executive Director, Rachel Bunch says they are working with ADH to understand all the logistics and how best to administer the recall.

“If you have a building with 100 people and 130 employees and they all got it at different times, different places and things … we just need to get the right details because some people can be appropriate for it now and others may need to wait until later, depending on when they get the shot, ”Bunch said.

Institutions will also need to obtain consent forms from families. She says they plan to work with pharmacies to come on site, especially when they have larger groups that qualify to receive the booster.

Bunch says they are excited to take another step forward to protect its residents and employees from this virus.

She adds that the AHCA facilities have high vaccination rates for their residents and workers and that these numbers continue to rise. About 85% of its residents and 67% of its staff are fully immunized.

Now, the Biden administration announced last month that nursing homes that receive federal funding must require COVID -19 vaccinations for their staff. All the details of the mandate, including the deadline, have not yet been finalized.

However, the agency continues to educate its nursing home communities on the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have employees who may have questions about allergies, fertility or research. So we tried to identify different experts in these fields and identify current information from CDC and ADH. As things continue to update and change, we are providing this information to workers, ”Bunch said.

Bunch says they have lost workers to the pandemic, but describes his workforce as stable for now.

The AHCA continues to perform hatch testing at all of its facilities. The test detects people with COVID-19 who have no symptoms.

In addition, for the past few weeks, establishments have been treating COVID patients with monoclonal antibody therapy. Bunch says they are already seeing a much smaller number of people ending up in hospital with serious illness and fewer deaths.

In addition to protecting its residents and staff from COVID-19, the facilities are also preparing for flu season. Bunch says it’s a very busy time for long-term care facilities. They are preparing to schedule flu clinics for facilities across the state. Bunch adds that the flu shot has been required for its residents and workers for some time and is something they do regularly every year. The facilities plan to start flu vaccinations soon.


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