Aging Services Leaders Urge Government to Broaden Vaccine Focus to Additional Key Populations

PRESS RELEASE | March 10, 2021 | by Lisa Sanders

“It is not enough to leave the allocation, access, and delivery decision-making to individual states.”

Contact: Lisa Sanders
lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

March 10, 2021, Washington, DC—With vaccinations well under way in nursing homes and long-term care, four leading aging services organizations urged the Biden Administration, as a matter of equity, to prioritize other vulnerable older Americans in urgent need of vaccinations—including homebound older people—as well as those who work in aging services.

The letter to Dr. Cameron Webb, White House Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity, calls out key populations, including vulnerable older individuals who live in other types of residential settings that were not included in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care—as well as older people who are served in community settings, such as adult day and PACE centers for whom no vaccination provisions have been made.

“It’s essential to keep up the progress with these vulnerable, prioritized individuals,” wrote the four leaders, who represent providers of aging services across the continuum of care:

  • Katie Smith Sloan, President & CEO, LeadingAge
  • James Balda, President & CEO, Argentum
  • David Schless, President, American Seniors Housing Association
  • Mark Parkinson, President & CEO, AHCA/NCAL

“It is not enough to leave the allocation, access, and delivery decision-making to individual states,” the letter added. “State health departments are understandably focused on more broad-scale rollout of vaccines to all older people, and soon, all adults. We must not lose focus on the most vulnerable elders.”“We are writing to request that the Administration take three key steps to maintain the momentum to ensure older people, particularly the most vulnerable among them, have access to COVID immunizations,” the leaders wrote to Dr. Webb.

Details From the Letter on the Three Requests

  • Onsite Clinics: “Directly allocate vaccine doses to Retail Pharmacy Program participating long-term care and other pharmacies that are willing to offer onsite clinics (including mobile clinics) to residential communities (including independent living), adult day health, and PACE settings. Many of these providers do not have a partnership with a LTC pharmacy.”
  • Homebound Adults & Their Caregivers: “Make a public statement about the Administration’s commitment to connecting homebound older people and their caregivers to vaccines, followed by plans to activate the connection. By homebound older adults we mean adults who cannot leave their homes and other older adults who would struggle to access a mass vaccination site (e.g., those dependent on oxygen, mobility limitations or moderate cognitive impairment).”
  • Care Workers: “Publicly prioritize those who work in aging services as a population of focus—similar to the announcement prioritizing teachers—and encourage states to target them in allocations and plans to administer the shots.”

Dr. Webb participated in a March 4 National Town Hall hosted by the Black Coalition Against COVID and LeadingAge to address concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine among workers in the aging services community.

 

About LeadingAge:

We represent more than 5,000 aging-focused organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we address critical issues by blending applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building. We bring together the most inventive minds in our field to support older adults as they age wherever they call home. We make America a better place to grow old. For more information: www.leadingage.org