Hutchinson not happy with pace of nursing home vaccinations

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Governor Asa Hutchinson said he is not happy with the pace nursing homes are being vaccinated.

Of the 31,700 Moderna doses in Arkansas, only 1,680 have been administered.

The governor is now pleading with pharmacies to help get the COVID-19 vaccines administered as quickly as possible.

“Lives are at stake and I know there’s been unique challenges but we have a job to do. We have to get this vaccine as it’s received administered because this is what will turn the tide,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of people that are very excited about getting the vaccines however this is a process. There are a lot of logistics to work out. This involves a lengthy consent process with both patients, their guardians and our employees,” said Rachel Bunch with Arkansas Health Care Association.

She said her department is doing everything it can to get the vaccines to the state’s more-than-300 facilities.

Hutchinson says it is critical the process speeds up, to protect our most vulnerable Arkansans.

Read the full statement from the Arkansas Health Care Association.

The LTC community in Arkansas began receiving and administering COVID-19 vaccinations this week. We are very excited about this opportunity to provide protection from the virus to our staff and residents in the hopes of saving lives, avoiding illness, and hopefully sometime soon, allowing family and friends to once again visit their loved ones. It’s a real step forward. 

However, as with all things associated with this pandemic, it brings challenges and calls for difficult decisions. In this case, the main issue is whether an LTC facility should mandate that staff receive the vaccine, or to make it optional. The balance here is to do all that is possible to protect our residents but also respecting the concerns of our hardworking staff around the state. As this issue has been considered by the industry in Arkansas, and around the country, one clear path forward has not emerged. 

The decision whether to mandate vaccines to the staff is being made on a facility by facility basis.  It is expected that some will mandate it, while others will make it optional but encourage that staff receives the vaccination. (Exceptions will be considered for religious and health considerations as required by federal law). Over time, we believe that the bulk of our residents and staff will receive it, but it is going to be a process that requires education and patience.

Rachel Bunch with the Arkansas Health Care Association

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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