|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||Media Contact: Thomas Threlkeld
Director of Communications
NAHC Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine Priorities
Since 1982, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has been the leading association representing the interests of home health, hospice and private duty home care providers across the United States, including the home caregiving staff and the patients and families they serve. Our members are providers of all sizes and types — from small rural agencies to large national companies — and include government-based providers, nonprofit organizations, systems-based entities and public corporations.
Home caregiving staff have been at the forefront of caring for some of our nation’s most vulnerable elderly, infirm and terminally ill patients since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and continue to make an important contribution in the fight against the spread of this disease. We welcome the opportunity to comment on the National Academies’ discussion draft of the Preliminary framework for Equitable Allocation of the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Making meaningful recommendations around the priorities that should guide the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccines when they become available will be a key element in our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 and to effectively treat those who become infected. NAHC strongly supports the Committee’s inclusion of “frontline health workers” – those who are involved in direct patient care – and based on the workers’ actual risk of exposure rather than professional title.
We applaud the Committee’s sensitivity in noting that, in addition to the fact that these workers’ “contact with patients exhibiting COVID-related symptoms puts them at obvious risk of exposure (despite the use of PPE, which is also often inadequate in supply); the fact that they work in an essential industry, but may be precluded from performing their professional duties if not adequately protected; and the reality that many are potentially important nodes in onward transmission networks given that many live in multigenerational homes and belong to communities whose opportunities for well-being have been forestalled by systemic racism and discrimination. The latter is especially true for many of those who work in nursing homes and as home health aides.”
The Committee notes that these workers include 3,162,000 home health care workers. While the draft recommendations do not provide details to this effect, it is our expectation that numbered among these workers would be the employees of hospice organizations that serve vulnerable terminally ill patients and their family members, and private-duty home care agencies that provide personal care and other vital supports to seniors and disabled individuals across the nation.
We urge that the Committee’s final recommendations include clarification that caregiving staff in hospice and private duty home care are included among those considered to be frontline health care workers so that those reading the recommendations who may not be familiar with the details of Bureau of Labor Statistics’ North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) understand the full breadth of workers who would be included in this category.
About National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC)
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is the voice of home care and hospice. NAHC represents the nation’s 33,000 home care and hospice providers, along with the more than two million nurses, therapists, and aides they employ. These caregivers provide vital services to Americans who are aged, disabled, and ill. Some 12 million patients depend on home care and hospice providers, who depend on NAHC for the best in advocacy, education, and information. NAHC is a nonprofit organization that helps its members maintain the highest standards of care. To learn more, visit nahc.org.