Posted: December 4, 2020
Priority distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare workers who are at the most risk of contracting the virus is welcome news. Rhythms Home Care is ready to receive the vaccine to protect associates. We remain in constant communication with state health department, the CDC, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as details of the distribution process continue to develop.
We want to share with you what we know now about the vaccine, how it will be distributed, what we are doing to keep associates, clients, and families informed about the process, and our continued commitment to testing, virus mitigation, and the overall quality of life for clients.
COVID-19 is a serious, life-threatening virus that has impacted the entire world. Protecting the most vulnerable Americans has been the top priority and vaccines have been developed at unprecedented speeds. The U.S. vaccine safety system has procedures in place to ensure the vaccine is as safe as possible. Clinical trials must show a vaccine is safe and effective before it can be approved for use. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice is actively advocating for the CDC to explicitly name homecare workers to prevent any confusion with local governments.
The FDA will meet in mid-December to discuss both the Pfizer and Moderna 2-dose vaccines which have reported to be 95% effective. Once approval is given, the federal government will distribute the vaccine to the states for inoculations. Each state has its own specific timeline and process for distribution and administration. We anticipate all of the states we support will follow the CDC tier guidelines for distribution but that has not been confirmed.
Having early access to the vaccine to protect associates is the first step in being able to lift restrictions. Combined with current safety measures such as face masks, physical distancing, and testing the vaccine will significantly reduce the spread of the disease and chances of exposure to the virus.
All Rhythms Home Care communities are registered with Colorado for Human and Health Services, Home Care and Home Health for pharmacy partnership with the Pharmacy Partnership Program. We will work with an assigned local pharmacy, who will store, distribute, and administer the vaccine which is free of charge to team members. The pharmacy will also:
• Order vaccines and associated supplies (e.g., syringes, needles, personal protective equipment).
• Ensure cold chain management for the vaccine.
• Report all required vaccination data to the local, state, and federal jurisdictions within 72 hours of administering each dose.
• Adhere to all applicable Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) COVID-19 testing requirements.
We anticipate the pharmacy will set up clinic dates and times for vaccinations and the pharmacy teams, working closely with our clinical teams, and will come to our communities and designated locations to administer the vaccines to associates. Three visits over approximately two months will likely be needed to administer both doses and vaccinate new team members.
Some of the details of how and when and who will get the vaccine first are still being worked out. At the moment, we believe team members will be included, and that the first tier to receive the vaccine will also include residents of skilled nursing and assisted living communities. We are waiting to hear where residential (independent) living clients and those living in their own homes receiving services will fit into the distribution tiers.
We know many clients, team members and families have questions about the vaccine benefits and side effects, what options, if any, will be offered to clients or team members who decline the vaccine, etc. We will share more information as soon as it is available. We will continue to share resources from the CDC that answer questions specifically around vaccine development, safety, and why getting the vaccine is beneficial. Read more about the safety of the vaccine here and, answers to questions about vaccine administration in our communities here. Learn more about the benefits of the vaccine from the CDC below:
For vaccine-specific questions, please refer to the CDC handouts,
In addition, we anticipate we will hold Family Town Hall Webinars as more information becomes available and throughout the process, giving team members, clients, and families an opportunity to ask questions and feel comfortable with the process. We are also providing hand-out materials to communities as they become available.
We are excited to add the vaccine to our arsenal of tools that will help eradicate the virus from our community, and eventually, assist in a return to normalcy. We also understand that many are experiencing “COVID combat fatigue,” growing weary from restrictions and isolation. While the vaccine will help control the virus, it will not completely eradicate it for quite some time, so we must continue to take precautions to stay healthy and protect ourselves and each other from this virus. We will continue with our robust infection control and testing program, and we ask for your continued diligence and patience as we all do our part to stop the spread of the virus.
Read more about the safety of the vaccine here and answers to questions about the vaccine administration in our communities here.