COVID-19 shots at WI nursing homes start as soon as Dec. 28

The state of Wisconsin plans to use the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at nursing homes, with shots starting as soon as Dec. 28. Administrators at Luther Manor in Wauwatosa are planning who will get the vaccine first out of the nearly 800 residents and staff.

About 200 to 300 of them are in the skilled nursing unit, which will get the first access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

Stephanie Chedid

"It’s exciting," said Stephanie Chedid, president and CEO. "It’s also a little chaotic.”

Chedid Tuesday, Dec. 15 said she's waiting to hear from Walgreens about when the first round of COVID-19 vaccines will be administered on campus.

"We don’t know when it’s going to happen," said Chedid. "We don’t know who’s going to be working. We also don’t know the quantity we’re going to be receiving."

Luther Manor

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On Monday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services initiated the so-called "Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program," which pairs pharmacies with nursing homes for vaccine administration.

Wisconsin COVID-19 vaccine committee meeting

"We are starting with the skilled nursing facilities," said Stephanie Schauer, Wisconsin Immunization Program.

Schauer told members of a state vaccine committee Tuesday they are committed to using the Moderna vaccine to innoculate more than 60,000 residents and staff members of skilled nursing facilities.

"That will begin on the 28th, assuming the Moderna vaccine is approved and we receive the allocation that we have been notified that we should receive," said Schauer.

"We’re really hopeful that this means the majority of residents in our skilled nursing facilities will be vaccinated by the end of January," said Julie Willems Van Dijk, DHS deputy secretary. 

After that, the state will focus on assisted living facilities and other long-term care settings.

"I’m very glad that after all of this, 9 months of the pandemic, that nursing homes, in particular, are being viewed as a priority," said Chedid.

While Luther Manor does allow some family members to visit loved ones, there are still tight restrictions and PPE requirements. Chedid says it will likely remain that way for some time.

"Even if all of my staff and all of my residents have the vaccine, having outsiders come in creates a risk for us," said Chedid.

When it comes to visitors, Van Dijk says what's more important than vaccines is a decrease in community spread of COVID-19.

"When disease numbers go down, then we would be able to allow limited numbers of visits to long-term care facilities from limited numbers of family members," she said.

Chedid said they are not yet certain if they can require staff to get COVID-19 shots as they already do for the flu shot, but she said she's confident her staff will come through because they know the residents need them.