How NYC nursing homes are preparing for vaccine distribution


UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo famously described COVID-19 in nursing homes as “like fire through dry grass.”

That’s why there is such relief that nursing homes are at the top of the list for getting the Pfizer vaccine in mid-December.

“I can’t begin to tell you what a relief it is that there is a date on the calendar that this pandemic is going to be over,” Scott LaRue, the president of ArchCare, told PIX11 News.

And for the residents of Mary Manning Walsh and five other nursing homes run by the New York Catholic archdiocese, the date is Wednesday, Dec. 16. That’s when the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be distributed to 1,700 Archcare residents and their 3,000 caregivers, pending final FDA approval.

And Scott LaRue is so pleased that the infrastructure is in place for a seamless, on-site distribution.

“Our pharmacy that serves our nursing homes was actually selected in addition to Walgreens and CVS as one of the distribution centers for the vaccine.,” LaRue told PIX11 News.

All that will be required is that each person receiving the first dose of the vaccine in mid-December must sign a consent form or have a legal guardian sign it.

Elderly residents in long term facilities were among the hardest hit, seeing thousands of deaths during the height of the pandemic.

And while seniors appear eager to sign up, some staff members not so much.

“So far, just anecdotally, when I speak with residents, they seem enthusiastic about the opportunity to get the vaccine. When I ask care members about the vaccine, I get a mixed result. I’d say 50-50,” LaRue said.

With the Pfizer vaccine, the second dose will be administered three weeks later.

As for side effects, the head of ArchCare says they seem pretty minor but still, LaRue says there is concern not to give it to everyone all at once.

“In the short term, there’s a sore arm and a low grade fever for a day or two, so there is some discussion that you wouldn’t want to vaccinate the whole staff at the same time and have everyone with sore arms and a low grade fever.”

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