COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio is at the head of the pack when it comes to getting the COVID-19 vaccine into long-term care facilities.
According to data by state updated yesterday, Ohio has administered the fifth-highest number of doses nationally through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.
Peter Van Runkle, executive director for the Ohio Health Care Association, said the federal initiative is wrapping up, but there's still a need.
"There are new people who come into facilities all the time," Van Runkle explained. "There are new admissions, there are new staff members that are hired, and we need to have a mechanism for those folks to get vaccinated."
Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to release additional information this week about a new maintenance vaccination program that picks up after the providers complete the federal program.
COVID cases in the state's nursing homes have fallen more than 77% since November, which the governor said is a testament to the state's aggressive vaccination efforts in long-term care facilities.
This week, the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living called on the CDC to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccine among long-term care populations, which were not included in clinical trials.
Van Runkle noted it will be important information as considerations are made about loosening restrictions inside facilities.
"We're talking about things like quarantining people when they're newly admitted, things like visitation by family members; testing, the amount of testing that has to be done, which is currently a lot; and things like how much PPE [personal protective equipment] needs to be worn," Van Runkle outlined.
Ohio has administered nearly 316,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in long-term care facilities, and more than 95,000 residents and workers have received a second dose.