Race to Vaccinate in Long-Term Facilities as Infections Spike in 65+ Age Group

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As the virus makes another comeback in Florida, there’s a race to vaccinate enough people to blunt its impact. Nowhere is that going to be more of a life-saver than in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The state is now showing more infections among those over 65 than at any time during the pandemic.

At The Palace in Kendall, Leigh Primack misses three trips a week to the JCC for exercise.

“I feel cooped up,” she said. So she is ready to lead the way when Walgreen's comes, hopefully within two weeks, to give the vaccine.

 “I understand it will give me immunity, and wouldn’t that be wonderful?” Primack said.

Eighty percent of the residents here have already consented, and that’s about what it’s going to take to protect the larger community.

"We cannot get past this problem as a society, a community, or anywhere, unless we have a huge percentage of the population, at a minimum 70%" said FIU infectious disease expert Aileen Marty.

Dr. Jason Salemi, of the University of South Florida, reported Thursday new cases among people over 65 this week exceeded the peak of the summer surge.

"What’s going to happen is hospitalizations are going to go up, more and more community spread into long-term care facilities, once it gets into long-term care facilities, its going to run through those facilities like somebody running through a dry wheat field with a flame thrower," said AARP spokesperson David Bruns.

Only this time, vaccines are coming to try to douse those flames, and other advances in treatment could make this wave less deadly than the last. For people at places like The Palace, John Knox Village and other long-term care facilities, it better.

One in 10 of those over 65 who get infected in Florida have died.

"Every one of these families, these tragedies, are wrenching and it is even more wrenching because, in the vast majority of these cases, these are beloved family members who are dying alone," Bruns said.

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