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The New Administration and the COVID-19 Vaccination

The new changes and expansion of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, several weeks after it began, is part of a vaccine “playbook” issued to US states in September 2020. The playbook leaves many details of the vaccine’s implementation up to individual state governments, confusing older adults trying to figure out how, where, and when they are eligible to receive proper vaccination. The move is opening COVID-19  vaccinations to affordable senior housing and independent living residents throughout the nation, who were not considered among the priority groups in phase 1a of the rollout, enabling anyone 65 or more years old to receive the vaccine. Also, those Americans younger than 65 with comorbidities will receive the vaccine as long as they can produce medical documentation required by the state in which they reside.

According to Karina Barragan, a 504 coordinator and director of social services programs for The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU), a community development corporation, concerns lie with the senior housing providers who are not healthcare providers and have no nurses on staff. The rollout remains complex as many residents’ default expectation is to receive nursing home capabilities within their communities.  However, there is optimism for federal vaccine clinics moving through senior living and other long-term care settings. The new Biden administration is promising more federal intervention and the goal of 100 million vaccinations administered within his first 100 days in office. President Biden plans to spend 20 billion dollars on the national vaccination program.

How is the rollout shifting then from one administration to the next? The Wall Street Journal reports the Biden administration will work with federal, state, and local officials setting up thousands of community vaccination centers. Mobile units are to be deployed in rural and underserved areas, and 100 federally supported centers promise to be in place at the end of President Biden’s first month in office. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help set up these centers, and federal reimbursement will be available to states deploying the National Guard assisting with vaccinations.

President Biden pledges the vaccine will be free of charge to all members of the public regardless of immigration status and will continue to follow the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation of two doses within a three to four-week timeframe for maximum efficacy. Biden plans to use the Defense Production Act to help the private sector boost supply of materials needed to manufacture and administer the vaccines like syringes, tubes, and protective equipment.

Who receives priority under the Biden vaccination plan? The president wants all states to offer vaccines to anyone 65 years or older and front-line workers like first-responders, teachers, and grocery store employees. These groups follow the initial prioritization in many states for healthcare workers and nursing home residents. State priorities will now become clearer as Biden strengthens the federal response to COVID-19. Federal offerings of additional funding, guidance, and deployment of federal agencies like FEMA and the National Guard can reduce some of the confusion people are experiencing about when and where to get vaccinated.

There will be a national public awareness campaign promoting the importance of receiving the vaccine to overcome some Americans’ hesitancy. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, will serve as both chief medical adviser in the Biden administration and a member of the COVID-19 response team. President Biden wants to scale up testing by purchasing rapid tests and laboratory capacity expansion to slow the spread, provide more health services and increase infection control in underserved communities and nursing homes.

All told, the president is asking Congress for 400 billion dollars in investments in a multi-faceted effort to stop the coronavirus. The federal government plan is to implement these new COVID-19 policies and vaccination priorities quickly. Everyone in America who wants to receive the vaccine must stay flexible and attentive to the COVID-19 policy changes between the outgoing and incoming administrations. The faster people can receive their vaccinations, the faster the nation can move forward and away from this devastating pandemic.

We hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy through the pandemic. If you have questions about your estate plan or want to discuss how to plan for the possibility of needing care in the future, we would be honored to speak with you. Please contact us at our Forty Fort Pennsylvania office or give us a call at 570-288-1800.


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