Alabama nursing homes beginning COVID-19 vaccinations

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CULLMAN, Ala. – Alabama nursing homes were set to begin vaccine clinics Monday as part of the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. Nursing home residents and employees (as well as those from assisted living facilities) are part of Phase 1a of the Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) Vaccine Allocation Plan.

John Matson, director of communications for the Alabama Nursing Home Association (ANHA), said the three pharmacies administering the vaccine, which will be the Pfizer product, at Alabama’s nursing homes are CVS, Walgreen’s and Senior Care Pharmacy.

“This all started when the federal government announced the partnership, and then the nursing homes chose to sign up with one of the three pharmacies. The reason they did that, and we encouraged our members to do it, is because this way you’re guaranteed to get the vaccine. If you didn’t choose to go with one of these three pharmacies, then you would be on your own to try to secure the vaccine, administer it and then file all of the paperwork,” said Matson.

He said all 231 nursing homes in the state signed up for the program.

“The nursing homes all signed up with one of those three pharmacies, and then those pharmacies got in touch with those nursing homes that signed up with them to start getting the necessary information. From that standpoint, the pharmacies were supposed to begin receiving the vaccine Dec. 21, and then start administering it Dec. 28,” Matson stated. “That pharmacy will schedule a time with that nursing home to come to the nursing home, administer the vaccine to any employee and resident who wants it and then complete all the necessary government paperwork. Then they’ll come back 21 days later and everyone that got the first dose gets the second dose of it, and anyone who didn’t receive the vaccine the first go-around that would like to is administered the vaccine and then they come back a second time to administer the second dose.”

Matson said the ANHA is not tracking positive cases statewide but did say nursing homes are required to report positive COVID-19 tests to six different entities: their local health department, the ADPH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the positive resident, the nursing home employees and the positive resident’s representative (usually a child or spouse).

According to nursing home-submitted public data compiled by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare services, as of Dec. 13, 2020, 10,295 Alabama nursing home residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 1,475 have died.

A note on the data states, “The data posted by CMS is what nursing homes submitted through the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) system. CMS and CDC perform quality assurance checks on the data and may suppress data that appear to be erroneous. The data is not altered from what nursing homes report to the NHSN system. Data regarding numbers of new cases, suspected cases, or deaths are aggregated. Nursing homes have the ability to correct their data so future postings include corrected data.”

Data submitted by Cullman County nursing homes to the CDC NHSN system, as of Dec. 13, 2020:

  • Hanceville Nursing Home has reported 32 confirmed cases, 25 suspected cases and four deaths.
  • Woodland Village has reported 44 confirmed cases, 13 suspected cases and 10 deaths.
  • The Folsom Center has reported 64 confirmed cases, 39 suspected cases and 11 deaths.
  • Cullman Health Care Center has reported 1 confirmed case, 1 suspected cases and 0 deaths.
  • The Sanctuary at the Woodlands had no numbers available.

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Wendy Sack

wendy@cullmantribune.com