FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                      
December 2, 2020
Contact: Deborah Pacyna

CAHF Applauds Decision to Make Nursing Home Residents and Staff the Highest Priority for COVID Vaccine Distribution

Calls on state leaders to ensure staff and residents are first in line for
Phase 1a vaccine distribution

SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Association of Health Facilities ( CAHF), representing more than 900 skilled nursing homes that employ 140,000 caregivers released the following statement in response to a decision by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to include health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities for the first round “1a” of COVID vaccine distribution. 

The following statement is attributable to Craig Cornett, CEO/President of CAHF:

“This is a great first step and we are grateful to the ACIP for prioritizing our residents and caregivers for the first distribution of the COVID vaccine.”

“Now we are counting on Governor Newsom and state health agencies to implement these recommendations and ensure our long term care residents and staff are prioritized in the actual rollout of the vaccine to provide this protection as soon as possible.”

“More than 5,000 long term care residents have died from COVID-19 in California – that’s one out of every four individuals who have been stricken by the deadly virus in the state. And now our nursing homes are experiencing the worst outbreak of new cases since last spring.”

“The average age of residents in long term care facilities is 85 and almost every one of them has an underlying health condition, and some have multiple chronic conditions. According to CDC data, the risk of mortality in this age group is 630 times higher than those 18-29 years old.” 

“The virus is highly contagious in congregate settings, like nursing homes. Unlike other viruses, a person can contract COVID-19, show no symptoms, and unknowingly spread it.  This factor, combined with a severe lack of PPE and testing at the outset, led to a disproportionate impact on nursing home residents.” 

“The lack of prioritization for nursing homes at the beginning of the pandemic led to devastating losses, and we cannot let that happen again. Vulnerable older adults and the frontline workers who protect them deserve the full support of the public health sector.” 

“CAHF and its members are calling on the leaders of our state to ensure long term care residents and staff are the first group to receive the vaccine within this initial Phase ‘1a’ distribution to save as many lives as possible.”