Home > Uncategorized > COFAR asking Baker administration whether DDS residents and staff will be among first to get COVID vaccine

COFAR asking Baker administration whether DDS residents and staff will be among first to get COVID vaccine

In the wake of a recommendation earlier this week from a federal advisory panel that healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities get the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, COFAR has asked the Baker administration whether that would include residents and staff in the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) system.

So far, we haven’t gotten an answer.

According to a Politico article, the recommendation on Tuesday of the advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) isn’t binding. But the article stated that many states that are putting together vaccination plans are looking to the CDC as a guide.

In an email on Wednesday morning to state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and DDS Commissioner Jane Ryder, I asked whether the Baker administration will include DDS residents and staff in its plans for distribution of the first doses of the vaccine that Massachusetts gets.

It appears the primary thrust of the recommendation on Tuesday of the CDC panel is to ensure the early vaccination of residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for the elderly.

Protecting residents of nursing homes from COVID-19 has been a priority of the Baker administration as well, given the large number of those residents that have died from the virus.

In my email to Sudders and Ryder, I noted that we support the early distribution of the vaccine in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and correctional centers. But we want to make sure the DDS system is included in those distribution plans, and that it is clear that both group homes and developmental centers in the DDS system fall into the category of long-term care facilities, in the view of the administration.

We have long been concerned that the administration has overlooked the DDS system in its efforts to protect the state in general from the impact of the COVID pandemic.

The Politico article stated that Trump administration officials say that up to 40 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will be available by the end of 2020. That is enough to vaccinate 20 million people. Between 5 and 10 million additional doses are anticipated to be available per week in early 2021.

Pfizer and Moderna are both seeking FDA authorization for their vaccines.

End to lockdown

The vaccinations will obviously bring an end to the ongoing isolation of DDS clients in group homes and developmental centers. Those residents have been subjected to increasingly strict and often inconsistent lockdown measures during the current surge of the virus.

Most of the increased COVID cases in the DDS system have been among staff, but the burden of the lockdown has fallen most heavily on the residents themselves.

Deaths among DDS residents do not currently appear to be rising; but, as of the latest two-week surveillance testing period ending November 25, the number of staff testing positive for the virus in DDS provider-run group homes had risen from 504 to 526.

As of December 1, the number of residents testing positive in provider-run group homes actually appeared to be leveling off from the week before, at 175.

We’re sure that all of the residents in the DDS system and their families would like to know how the Baker administration is interpreting the CDC’s definition of long-term care facilities with regard to distribution of the vaccines. We hope we get an answer from the administration soon.

  1. Gloria J. Medeiros
    December 4, 2020 at 11:12 am

    I am so thankful for all you are doing for the residents and the staff in the provider-run DDS system. My daughter is in a Group Home and the staff have been wonderful and caring, they are risking their own health and their families to take care of our daughter and the other residents. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. December 4, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    I also want to thank COFAR’s efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous
    December 4, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    My experience mirrors the observationthat most positives are staff relatedwith the accompanyingquarantining of residents unfairly impacting medical and dental appointments.I i APPRECIATE THE ONGOING DEDICATION OF CARING STAFF i THINK that making residents bear the burden of staff misfortunes is decidedly unfair anfd dds administrators are too slow in addressing this issue.
    MARYALICE f Frain

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cindy barich
    December 15, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    Has there been any update if DDS clients will be included in the phase 1 vaccinations along with other people in long term living facilities?

    Neither my brothers group home nor his service provider know.


  5. Anonymous
    December 17, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Thank you for your ongoing advocacy for DDS clients in residential group homes and for the staff who work so hard to serve. I have a loved one living in a group home and appreciate your efforts.


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