Congregate living residents are set to be vaccinated after staff members

Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 6:38 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Long-term care workers and congregate living staff are among the first in line to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in the state. But when will the residents the workers care for receive a vaccine?

All residents living in a congregate setting who have opted into the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program with CVS and Thrifty White Drug have the opportunity to be vaccinated starting Dec. 27. State immunization officials said it may only take about three weeks to get through every resident.

Although long-term care residents have to wait another week to get a COVID-19 shot, some staff members are already being vaccinated. Janelle Sims, who works in a Transitional Care unit at CHI St. Alexius, rolled up her sleeve Friday morning. “I feel a lot of hope right now,” said Sims.

Residents are hopeful as well.

Sims said residents seem excited that immunizations could provide a return to normalcy. “I feel like there’s a lot more excitement than fear in getting this vaccine,” said Sims.

Pfizer vaccine administrators will come to congregate living spaces three total times to ensure everyone who wants the vaccine can get it.

They do the initial vaccination, come a second time three weeks later for the second dose or a first dose for those who missed the first round, and then a third time for those who still need their second dose.

Facilities could also sign up to be vaccinated by local public health, another independent pharmacy, or vaccinate using their own staff.

State immunization officials said those facilities will also receive their vaccines by Dec. 27, but their process may be a bit different. “It’s up to them to schedule those clinics and get necessary consents and everything like that, but that should be done fairly quickly as well,” said State Immunization Program Manager Molly Howell.

Staff said they’re happy residents are seeing a light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel. “I’ve just seen so many people be sad and lonely when they’re not able to see their family and if we can just get this one step closer than they can be reunited,” said Sims.

Leaders at CHI St. Alexius said they’ll continue preparing to vaccinate subsequent priority groups.

Congregate living facilities will be receiving their vaccines on Dec. 27, but whether it’s the Pfizer vaccine, or the soon-to-be authorized Moderna vaccine, is dependent on who the facility decides to partner with.

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