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With the omicron COVID-19 variant in 73% of coronavirus cases and on the rise, the country is three weeks away from an increase that could potentially overwhelm the healthcare system. That’s why “now is the time” to get vaccinated – or get vaccinated – against the virus, to enter winter with maximum protection, public health and long-term care experts said Tuesday. .
The long-term care industry aims to vaccinate – or provide booster shots – to all eligible residents and staff by the end of 2021, said David Gifford, chief medical officer of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living. . Gifford hosted a virtual town hall on Tuesday co-hosted by LeadingAge and AARP, to answer questions about the virus and vaccines for those who work or live in long-term care facilities.
Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Admiral Rachel Levine, MD, has recommended diaper protection through vaccination, booster shots and masking to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
“We never imagined the pandemic would last this long,” Levine said, adding that the aging service industry’s response to the pandemic has come at the cost of “great personal sacrifice.”
“But there is hope,” she said. “Unlike 2020, last winter, we have the power to protect ourselves.
Fully vaccinated and stimulated individuals have a 10-fold lower rate of obtaining COVID-19, showing that existing vaccines work against omicron, Levine said. The country averages over a million recalls a day, she said, but cases are doubling every two or three days as the omicron spreads across the country.
Natural immunity is not enough to protect individuals against omicron, Levine added.
“The boosters offer people optimal protection against this new variant,” she said. “Do not wait.”
Rogerson Communities President and CEO Walter Ramos, JD said the education provided by the Boston-based seniors’ residence nonprofit in 2020 has helped him achieve a rate of 90% vaccination in its communities. The organization is also approaching a 90% recall rate, he added.
Bringing in experts who “looked like the people who live and work in the facilities we manage and own”, as well as those who speak multiple languages and understand the culture of each community, was important to build confidence in vaccines and reminders. . Ramos said.
“We take the time to meet people where they are,” he said. “I cannot stress enough how important it is for them to have a comfort level to receive the boosters.”
Rogerson has worked with pharmacies and local vendors to provide on-site vaccination clinics or off-site vaccine access to mobile residents and staff, Ramos said.
Levine said she is supporting an effort to get booster shots in the arms of all eligible people by the end of this year, to provide maximum protection for the coming winter. She referred to President Biden’s speech on Tuesday afternoon on the White House’s efforts to step up its fight against COVID-19, including increasing access to free tests, increasing the capacity of hospitals and working to obtain more shots.
“Now is the time,” Levine said. “We can’t give up because COVID-19 doesn’t stop.
“Staying one step ahead of the virus and protecting communities against COVID-19 with safe and effective vaccines and boosters is critical, especially in the context of the evolution of the virus and the new variant. omicron, ”she added.