Common Questions and Answers About COVID-19 Vaccines for Illinois Nursing Home Families
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), consistent with federal agency standards, recommends residents of long-term care facilities be included among those offered the first supply of COVID-19 vaccines. As a result, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for residents of long-term care facilities has been occurring in Phase 1A since the distribution began on December 28, 2020. The state has been using the federal government’s nursing home and long-term care vaccination program alongside Walgreens and CVS pharmacies in charge of administering the vaccine to residents.
The state health agency reports Phase 1A is still underway and about 41% of 850,000 health care workers and nursing home residents have received at least one inoculation and nearly 12% getting both doses so far.
Illinois: Phase 1A
The first phase of vaccinations includes frontline healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. The goal is to fortify the healthcare workforce by removing the most exposed workers from the cycle of illness and infection and protecting our most vulnerable residents.
Illinois: Phase 1B
As federal vaccine deliveries increase, Phase 1B will continue for essential frontline workers and individuals aged 65 and over, many of whom carry a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Illinois has 1.3 million people who qualify as “frontline essential workers” and 1.9 million adults age 65 and over, totaling 3.2 million eligible Illinoisans.
Ensuring long-term care residents can receive COVID-19 vaccination as soon as the vaccine is available will help save the lives of those at the highest risk for infection and severe illness from COVID-19.
Help Understanding the Importance of the COVID-19 Vaccination
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided answers to several common questions nursing home residents and their families may have to help everyone understand the importance of COVID-19 vaccination. The information below is specially tailored to help answer questions before immunization.
Q: Can residents and loved ones feel confident that COVID-19 vaccines are safe?
A: Yes. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority. All of the vaccines used have gone through the same safety tests and meet the same safety standards as other vaccines. As people begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, CDC and FDA will continue to monitor vaccine safety closely.
Q: Do the benefits of vaccination outweigh the possible risks?
A: ACIP and CDC agreed that the lifesaving benefits of vaccinating residents against COVID-19 outweigh the possible risks. Studies reveal that the vaccines were safe and provided protection from COVID-19 in adults age 65 and over.
Q: What are the possible side effects?
The CDC reports that the most common side effect is pain at the injection site, and some individuals experience symptoms like fever and chills. These side effects tend to be mild to moderate and go away quickly. These side effects are signs that the immune system is doing precisely what it is supposed to do. It is working and building up protection against the disease. Serious side effects after vaccination were very rare.
Q: Will residents still need to wear masks after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines will be an essential tool to help stop the pandemic. However, everyone, including LTCF staff and residents, should follow all current guidance, including facility policies on visitation, to protect themselves and others.
Q: Will residents have to get two shots to be protected from COVID-19?
Yes. All people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine should get two shots. The first shot starts building protection, but people need a second shot a few weeks later to get the most protection the vaccine can offer.
Q: How do residents and their loved ones report possible side effects?
It is important to notify your healthcare provider if an individual is experiencing side effects after the COVID-19 vaccination. Facility residents and their loved ones are encouraged to report any adverse events immediately to care staff and the attending physician.
Q: Can residents’ family members and loved ones receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the Pharmacy Partnership Program for Long-Term Care?
No. On-site clinics through the Pharmacy Partnership Program will vaccinate residents and staff of LTCFs. Residents’ families or loved ones are not eligible for this program.
Q: Will a cost be a barrier to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
No. There is no cost associated with the COVID-19 vaccine for recipients. Vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the vaccine. Still, this fee will be reimbursed by the patient’s public or private health insurance or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
Unfortunately, willful neglect, preventable accidents and illnesses, and abuse are occurring at alarming numbers only magnified the pandemic. And even the most highly-rated facilities have been challenged by understaffed departments or ill-equipped workers who have not been trained to care for residents properly.
If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccination or concerns about a nursing home facility or long-term care center not following CDC’s recommendations, please be sure to ask to speak with the facility administrator as soon as possible. There are rights designed to protect your loved ones from these situations.
Chicago Nursing Home Attorneys for Infectious Disease-Related Injuries
The team at Levin & Perconti is working tirelessly to advocate for Illinois nursing home residents during this time. We invite you to use our resources to protect your loved ones. But if you suspect mistreatment of a nursing home resident as the cause of their illness or untimely death, please contact Levin & Perconti. We take extreme pride in being one of the nation’s most recognized and respected leaders in the areas of elder abuse and nursing home negligence litigation.
Please, contact us now for a FREE and confidential consultation at 312-332-2872 in Chicago, or reach us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417.
Source: These recommendations were provided by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent panel of medical and public health experts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Answering Common Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines. January 2021.