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The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released a statement following an announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on new guidance for nursing home visitation.

The statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL:

“While we are still reviewing the guidance, the indication that nursing home residents can visit with their loved ones is welcome news that we fully support. It has been nearly one year to the day since visitors were restricted from nursing homes, and now thanks to the vaccines, we cannot wait to safely reopen our doors. Our dedicated staff members have done an extraordinary job filling in for loved ones and adapting visitations during this difficult time, but nothing can replace engaging with family members in-person. The health and wellbeing of our residents will improve thanks to this important guidance.

“It is critical that public health officials continue to prioritize vaccines for long term care residents and staff in order to help facilitate these reunifications. After the three rounds of on-site clinics, it is unclear how long term care facilities will be able to quickly access vaccines moving forward. We need the CDC to ensure the vaccine is readily available for new admissions as well as current residents who have since decided to get the vaccine, so they are able to visit with their families per the new CMS guidance. A steady, ongoing allocation of vaccines to long term care will also help ensure we continue to build upon the progress we have already made in reducing COVID in long term care.

“It is also critical we continue to educate staff, residents and family members, and the general public, about the importance of the vaccine, giving them the facts they need to make an informed decision. We launched the #GetVaccinated campaign in December to help in this effort, and providers are committed to increasing uptake among residents and staff.”