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COVID-19 Vaccine In Texas Nursing Homes A Chance To Return To 'Normal' Life

an elderly person being comforted by another person
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"They've been more affected than the rest of us because they really haven't left their buildings. Sometimes they haven't left their rooms."

From Texas Standard:

Texas is ready to distribute 100,000 vaccine doses as soon as Pfizer-BioNTech gets the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration. And some of the first people in line will be Texas nursing home residents.

Patty Ducayet is Texas' long-term care ombudsman. She says nursing homes in almost every area of Texas have been hit hard by the virus.

"The disease has gotten into almost every single nursing home in Texas at some point since March. And like the rest of the country, we've seen the majority of deaths from COVID-19 come from our long-term-care facility residents," she told Texas Standard.

She says all nursing home residents and staff will receive top priority for the vaccine once it's available. But the state still has to figure out how to evenly distribute it, because the vaccine requires special cold storage. Finding that storage could be tricky in some areas.

The vaccine is not mandatory. The state doesn't have the authority to require a vaccine that's been approved for emergency use. Residents can refuse it, or their legal representative can refuse for them.

But Ducayet emphasizes how important the vaccine will be for nursing home residents to return to normal life.

"They've been more affected than the rest of us because they really haven't left their buildings. Sometimes they haven't left their rooms under circumstances when there's virus in the building. And that has been really tough," she said.

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Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
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