Statement on the FDA’s Authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine

PRESS RELEASE | December 11, 2020 | by Lisa Sanders

“We cannot let down our guard. The coming days and weeks are critical.”

Contact: Lisa Sanders

lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

December 11, 2020 Washington, DC —Statement from Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, including nursing homes, on Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine:

“The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine authorization brings our nation one step closer to ending a nine-months-long nightmare that has cost the lives of more than 200,000 people age 65 and older—over 80% of all COVID deaths.

Everyone is weary, but we cannot let down our guard. Federal recommendations prioritize older adults and long term care staff, which is the step in the right direction. But the coming days and weeks are critical to ensuring that the lives of more older Americans and those who care for them will not be lost. Several actions must be taken:

  • States must ensure that older adults and long term care staff--who’ve suffered most from the COVID pandemic--are among the first in line for life-saving vaccines. We also urge them to include in their early distribution plans, home health, hospice, and other aging services providers that are not included in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term program.
  • Fast, efficient distribution of the vaccine to older adults is vital. And it must take into account health equity: Nursing homes with higher numbers of Black or Hispanic residents have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and care workers are disproportionately from communities of color.
  • Broad efforts must be made to educate aging services residents, clients, families and employees about the benefits of vaccination. This education will take time, but aging services providers are deeply committed to ensuring all older adults and the people who serve them receive the vaccine.

While the vaccine is not a panacea, it is a ray of hope for many older adults who have been so cut off from their family and friends over these past many months.

A successful vaccination program is only the first step in beating COVID.

  • Congress needs to pass a real relief package now to provide aging services providers with the testing, PPE, and staffing support they need to protect older adults.
  • Communities must reduce the possibility of the virus’ spread by promoting common-sense social distance, mask use and handwashing practices.
  • The Biden Administration must follow through quickly to help aging services keep older people and their surrounding communities healthy and safe.”
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.