KIRKLAND, Wash. - COVID-19 has devastated the nation’s long-term care facilities, accounting for nearly 40% of all deaths in the U.S. Now, workers and residents of those facilities are near the front of the line when it comes to getting vaccinated against coronavirus.
Phase 1 of the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Program includes healthcare providers, essential workers, people with high-risk medical conditions, or 65 years of age and up. Long-term care facilities, hospitals, outpatient facilities, home health care, pharmacies, EMS, and public health will be the first to access the vaccine.
Life Care Center of Kirkland was once the epicenter for coronavirus in the U.S. On its website about the vaccine and distribution plan, Life Care Centers of America said it's a registered participant in the "Federal Pharmacy Partnership for COVID-19 Vaccination in Long-term Care Facilities." Life Care officials said their primary pharmacy partner – CVS Pharmacy – will be setting up clinics in all 208 facilities, including in Kirkland.
Life Care’s corporate officials say they will not require staff or residents to take the vaccine, however, everyone is highly encouraged. Life Care and CVS will set up a clinic in the facility to provide the vaccine at no charge.
June Liu is a resident at Life Care Center of Kirkland. The 94-year-old survived a stroke and COVID-19 after testing positive in March. Her daughter, Su Wilson, said Liu has recovered and is doing very well at the center, accept she is suffering from isolation.
“They cheer her up, they told her hang in there and give her whatever the support. But she’s just very lonesome,” said Wilson.
The facility has kept its doors shut for months to all guests in efforts of reducing the spread of COVID-19. Wilson and all of her family make sure to visit Liu twice daily outside of her window so she doesn’t feel so isolated.
“Su goes there regularly and her sister goes there. And Su quite often takes the grandkids, so that’s mom’s entertainment. She’s doing great although she’s bored to death and she wants out,” said Arnold Wilson, Liu’s son-in-law.
Getting out for any resident may be in the foreseeable future, as access to a vaccine becomes available. The Wilson’s said they will choose not to take the vaccine and instead use natural remedies for treatment. Though Life Care highly recommends getting the vaccine, Liu’s family said they appreciate the company giving families the option to choose.
Life Care officials said vaccines will be administered as soon as CVS receives them, but there is no timeline at the moment. In the meantime, Life Care will be discussing registration and consent processes with all staff and residents.