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Long-term care facilities prepare to receive COVID-19 vaccine

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Posted at 3:00 PM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-20 23:59:05-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The first round of COVID-19 vaccines has been administered in Kentucky to frontline healthcare workers.

In the coming days and weeks, long-term care facilities and nursing homes will begin receiving shipments of the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

27,300 vaccines will be shipped to Kentucky starting Dec. 21, which will primarily go to long-term care facilities, according to Governor Andy Beshear.

“There is hope at the end of the tunnel,” said Karen Venis who is the executive director at Sayre Christian Village.

Kentucky has partnered with CVS and Walgreens to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care facilities.

Sayre Christian Village will receive its first shipments of the vaccine on Dec. 30. In the meantime, Venis told LEX 18 News they are working on educating families and obtaining consent for residents to be vaccinated.

Acquiring consent to vaccinate is a critical hurdle for long-term care facilities to overcome in the process of mobilizing vaccinations within their facilities. In many cases, residents with cognitive impairments or dementia may not be able to make their own medical decisions, leaving the final decision up to family members.

“We’re going to treat this conversation as we would any other decision that needs to be made from a medical standpoint,” said Venis.

For those opting out of being vaccinated, life will continue as it has since the coronavirus first arrived in the Commonwealth.

“We’ll rely on the CDC guidance and what our state guidance says about how we will continue to wear masks, social distancing, all of the things that we’ve been doing for COVID for those individuals that opt not to take the vaccine we will continue those efforts until we are given other indications on how to proceed,” said Venis.

Looking to the future, conversations about when in-person visits can resume will likely not be on the table until the vaccine is extended to the general public, according to Venis.

However, Venis said the expectation is the first phase of vaccinations will help improve the quality of life of residents in other ways.

“Once we’ve received the vaccine, we hope to be able to at least start to inside our facility get back together in groups so that we can have that camaraderie and have those social connections we’ve all been longing for,” she said.

Sayre Christian Village will host an informational Zoom conversation with families to answer questions about what the process of receiving the vaccine will look like on Monday.