How Jurisdictions Can Ensure COVID-19 Vaccine Access for Staff and Residents in Long-term Care Settings
COVID-19 Vaccine Access in Long-term Care Settings: Information for Jurisdictions, and State and Local Immunization Programs
State and local health departments play a critical role as the first-level safety net support in ensuring all long-term care (LTC) settings have the vaccine access and support they need. It is important to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines while also ensuring access to these vaccines.
On this page, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains how state and local immunization programs can assist LTC administrators and managers when coordinating access to COVID-19 vaccines for residents and staff.
LTC administrators and managers have been advised to contact their state or local health department’s immunization program for assistance [3 pages] if they are having difficulties arranging COVID-19 vaccination for their residents and staff.
- If you are a state, territorial, or local health department contacted by a provider in an LTC setting: Review the options for coordinating access to COVID-19 vaccines with them, and provide vaccination services through your immunization program, if needed.
- CDC is available as a safety net support if your immunization program is unable to connect an LTC setting with a vaccine provider.
Learn more about booster shots.
Options for Coordinating Access to COVID-19 Vaccines
LTC providers should let residents and staff know that they can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at an existing vaccination site, such as a nearby pharmacy or healthcare provider’s office.
- For residents and staff who are willing and able to travel to a vaccination site, this may be the fastest and convenient way to get vaccinated. Residents and staff should follow safety precautions when in the community. See How to Protect Yourself & Others for more information.
- LTC administrators and staff may visit vaccines.gov to find the nearest pharmacy that administers COVID-19 vaccines.
- LTC residents and staff should bring their vaccination cards with them to their booster or additional dose appointments. See Vaccination Card and Booster Shots for more information.
- If LTC residents attend a day program, visit a senior center, or participate in a congregate nutrition program, LTC administrators and managers should check to see if those programs are offering on-site COVID-19 vaccinations, specifically those needed by individual LTC residents seeking vaccination.
If a facility does not already provide transportation, LTC administrators and managers should consider arranging transportation from their facility.
- LTC administrators and managers may visit eldercare.acl.gov or call 1-800-677-1116 for more information on transportation for older adults and people with disabilities. The U.S. government does not endorse a particular service provider and cannot verify the quality and scope of services offered.
- LTC administrators and managers may also contact the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL), set up to help people with disabilities get vaccinated, at 1-888-677-1199 or DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.
LTC staff may need to use time off to access COVID-19 vaccines and some employers are eligible for tax credits for granting that time.
- See the IRS Fact Sheet: Employer Tax Credits for Employee Paid Leave Due to COVID-19for more information.
For some residents and staff, receiving vaccinations on-site in the LTC setting where they reside and are comfortable may be the best option.
- LTC administrators and staff should contact their long-term care pharmacy, local retail pharmacy, or other vaccine provider to arrange for an on-site vaccination clinic.
- LTC administrators and managers may request vaccination support from a pharmacy partner enrolled in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. See Connecting Long-Term Care Settings with Federal Pharmacy Partners for links and contact information.
Additional Support for LTC Settings
- If LTC settings have already explored the options above to coordinate access to COVID-19 vaccines for their residents and staff and still need assistance, their next step should be to reach out to the state or local immunization program [3 pages] for assistance.
- If the jurisdictional immunization program is unable to connect an LTC setting with a vaccine provider, CDC can help jurisdictions access this support.
Promising Practices for Coordinating Vaccine Access for LTC Settings
Many jurisdictions have found the following practices helpful when coordinating access to COVID-19 vaccines for residents and staff in LTC settings:
- Proactively connect with LTC settings to determine their vaccine access needs and whether they have identified pharmacy partners to support their site.
- Use available support systems to identify and reach LTC settings in your state (Medicaid programs, nursing associations, senior care organizations, local chapters of LTC organizations, and licensing and certification organizations).
- Engage pharmacy partners to understand the challenges around providing vaccines for residents and staff in LTC settings, such as determining ideal vaccination timing for staff and residents who were vaccinated at different times or who may need help in planning for when to be vaccinated to remain up to date.
- Consider vaccine “strike teams” (or a small team that can go to a location and administer COVID-19 vaccines) to provide additional, more focused support, such as providing vaccination to difficult-to-reach sites.