WASHINGTON – Continuing his mission to ensure nursing home residents in the Valley get access to vaccines promised by the federal government, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) has sent a letter to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky asking the agency to speed up distribution and improve communication on its vaccine distribution to long term care facilities. Although the CDC has promised to deliver doses of the vaccine to nursing homes through its Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, very few care facilities in the Valley have received any doses.
Equally concerning to Rep. Harder is the lack of clear communication regarding the distribution timeline from the CDC and its partners. Without action, local authorities may be forced to allocate vaccine doses already set aside for health care workers and seniors living on their own to nursing homes.
Representative Harder has been in contact with local and state public health officials, local long-term care facilities, pharmacy partners, and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The text of the letter is below and an original copy is available here.
Dear Director Walensky,
I write to you today to express my deep concerns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program (Program) and urge immediate actions to help improve and streamline the program for my constituents that rely on it. Federal guidance will be critical, especially in the coming weeks to ensure that those in our long-term care facilities (LTCF) receive their COVID-19 vaccines.
My district has the third highest coronavirus deaths per capita in my state, with residents of LTCFs accounting for just five percent of the cases, but a third of total deaths. The current spike in cases has overwhelmed our region’s hospitals, rendering them without intensive care unit beds. Dozens of local facilities and health care officials have reached out to my office raising grave frustrations with the lack of communication and delayed roll-out of the Program to our LTCFs. Despite enrolling in this Program in November 2020, many of our LTCFs have received zero communications from their facilitating pharmacy. These facilities are ready to vaccinate residents, but they simply need a supply of vaccines.
If these facilities do not get faster access to the vaccines, but remain at the Program’s current rate, it will cost lives. Further federal support must be provided to better distribute these desperately needed vaccines to residents in our LTCFs.
As the issues with the Program continue to place our LTCFs at risk, I request responses to the following questions:
- What immediate options will be provided to our local LTCFs so they can receive a reliable supply of vaccines?
- What is the expected timeline to receive vaccines through the Program or other federal support structures?
- What accountability measures are in place with the partnership pharmacies, like CVS or Walgreens, to ensure that the roll-out of the program happens effectively?
- How will the CDC work with the partnership pharmacies to ensure that they are clearly communicating with all local LTCFs that have been enrolled in the Program?
Given the extreme consequences around a lack of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, I urge swift action. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter and I look forward to your timely response.
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