CT Prioritized The Vaccine To Nursing Homes. Is It Working?

·4 min read

CONNECTICUT — As the state moves breathlessly from phase 1a to 1b of its coronavirus vaccine rollout plan, it's worth pausing just a moment to ask, "Is it working?"

Getting the medicine into the arms of nursing home residents and staff of long term care facilities, as well as frontline healthcare workers, was the primary objective in phase 1a. Nursing homes were hardest hit by the virus early in the pandemic, being a perfect storm of susceptibility: a congregate environment for the elderly. With the pivot to phase 1b (jabs for those 75 years of age and older) in full swing, what kind of relief can be expected?

According to data made available by the state Department of Public Health, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes went into free-fall around the beginning of January, roughly dovetailing with the medicine's rollout in those communities. More than 64,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to nursing home residents and workers in January according to the Department of Public Health.

That's happy news, but it's still coincidental, to the glass half-empty crowd.

To get a glimpse of their world a few weeks or sometimes months into the future, public health prognosticators have been paying close attention to Israel. There the rollout has been effected with an enviable military efficiency and speed. Given the country's smaller size and reported willingness to pay top dollar for the medicine, it's not surprising there were fewer kinks in the supply chain.

What do we know from watching the Israelis? Pfizer's vaccine is around 92 percent effective, which is about what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had expected, based on the medicine's accelerated trials. We have also learned that people who have received both their vaccine shots develop more antibodies against the disease than recovered COVID-19 patients — but give it some time. Clalit, Israel's largest health maintenance organization is reporting that between five and 12 days after receiving their first dose, people were just as likely to test positive as were unvaccinated people. After two weeks, that number dropped by 33 percent. The benefits to Israeli patients kick in about three days later than what Pfizer reported in its phase 3 trials last year.

As of Jan. 28, 299,876 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, and another 64,379 second doses, for a total of 364,255 vaccinations in Connecticut. While no Israel, the state is the fourth fastest per capita in getting the regrettably scarce vaccine out the door.

Although the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in nursing homes may be dropping here at the beginning of the vaccine rollout, the number of deaths caused by the disease is spiking (see graph). With 258 COVID-19 nursing home deaths in just the first three weeks of January, Connecticut nursing homes are about as statistically fatal places to be as they were at the start of the pandemic.

The DPH weekly nursing home report uses data submitted to National Healthcare Safety Network, which reflects the number of cases and deaths related with COVID-19 that occurred in the past week among both residents and staff. CT DPH began reporting NHSN data from June 17. Cumulative data for residents was rebaselined on July 15 and again on July 21 to account for false positives detected that week. Due to differing data collection and processing methods between NHSN and the data sources used previously DPH does not add the data before and after rebaselining due to the possibility of duplication of cases and deaths among prior and current data.

You may navigate the table page-by-page using the arrow at its top right, or search for information using the tool in the top left of the charts:

*Three Rivers Healthcare permanently closed on Sept. 30, 2020.
**Cassena Care of New Britain permanently closed on Dec. 19, 2020.
***Meridian Manor permanently closed on Jan. 7, 2021

Connecticut assisted living facilities are required by the DPH to report on the impact of COVID-19 on their residents and staff through the Long Term Care Mutual Aid Plan (LTC-MAP) web-based reporting system. This report is intended to reflect recent COVID-19 activity in assisted living facilities.

The CT DPH weekly assisted living report uses data submitted to LTC-MAP which reflects the number of cases and deaths associated with COVID-19 that occurred in the past week among both residents and staff.

CT DPH began reporting LTC-MAP data on resident deaths associated with COVID-19 on July 8, 2020. Due to differing data collection and processing methods between LTC-MAP and the death data sources used previously, cumulative death data for residents was rebaselined on July 14, 2020. The resident death data before and after July 14, should not be added due to the differing definitions of COVID-19 associated deaths used and the possibility of duplication of deaths among prior and current data.

You may navigate the table page-by-page using the arrow at its top right, or search for information using the tool in the top left of the charts:


This article originally appeared on the Across Connecticut Patch

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