Vaccine to hit local nursing home next week

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff file photo. Residents and staff of Den-Mar Health and Rehabilitation Center in Rockport are scheduled to receive a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 on Jan. 5.

Local nursing homes are gearing up to receive the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine at the start of the new year. 

Den-Mar Health & Rehabilitation Center of Rockport and Seacoast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Gloucester are two of about 2,000 nursing homes across the state that are prepping for their turn at getting the novel coronavirus vaccine in Phase One of Gov. Charlie Baker's vaccine timeline. 

Den-Mar is scheduled for its first vaccination clinic at its 44 South St. facility on Tuesday, Jan. 5. 

"We are confident that the worldwide, unprecedented scientific achievement of these COVID-19 vaccines will eventually enable us to enjoy life with our loved ones again," Chief Executive Officer Steven Vera of Den-Mar Health & Rehabilitation Center wrote in a Dec. 11 letter to residents and family members. 

Den-Mar is partnering with other long-term care facilities to participate in the COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Program created by the Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the state Department of Public Health to find the most efficient vaccine distribution plan for its residents free of charge.

Walgreens personnel will administer the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine to the Den-Mar community.

“The Pfizer vaccine is a two-step vaccine and we anticipate the second part of this vaccine to be distributed approximately three weeks later,” Vera said. “Any residents or staff who are not vaccinated during the first visit will be able to begin the process during the second visit as well.”

Since the pandemic began, Den-Mar has had a cumulative total of 43 residents and 25 staff contract the virus; 13 residents died between the start of the pandemic and late May. Vera said that while Den-Mar did see cases of COVID-19 early this year, the last positive case was in early May. 

“We are very proud of the Den-Mar staff on how they have been able to keep the virus out of the facility for the last 7 months,” Vera wrote in an email to the Times. “This demonstrates the staff’s ongoing commitment to providing our residents with the high quality of care in the safest, homelike environment.”

"We look forward to doing our part in this effort by getting the COVID-19 vaccine, and hope you will join us," Vera added. 

The management team at Seacoast Nursing agree with Vera, explaining that they "encourage all residents and staff to get the vaccine." 

In a Dec. 21 update on its website, Seacoast management noted that they will need a signed consent form to administer the vaccine to residents and will be distributing them as soon as possible. 

The nursing home at 292 Washington St. is still awaiting guidance from its partners regarding specific dates that it will be able to administer the vaccine.

A representative from Seacoast was not able to provide any more details in time for publication.

In February, the second phase of the state's vaccine distribution plan will allow adults older than 65, teachers, grocery, utility, transit, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works and public health workers to get the vaccine.

Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

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