FISHERS, Ind. — Nearly half of Indiana's 12,025 deaths from COVID-19 were residents at long term care facilities. But those deaths have steadily declined since vaccine clinics began at nursing homes across the state eight weeks ago.
CVS pharmacist Michelle Del Busto leads a vaccine clinic team giving shots at long term care facilities daily since Dec. 28. Vaccinations at Allisonville Meadows assisted living on Tuesday gave Del Busto a shot to see her 80-year-old mother, Joyce Learned, who suffers from dementia and lives at the facility in Fishers.
"She just had her birthday and we had to celebrate outside in the cold looking in through the window, watching her open presents,” said Del Busto. “So it's really important that we get families back together with their parents and their grandparents and that we stop the pandemic."
Del Busto gave her mom her second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
"To be part of this, to know that these people are going to hopefully get to see their family members, and that I could be close enough to my mom to have a conversation, it really meant a lot,” said Del Busto.
About 100 residents at Allisonville Meadows assisted living received their second dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday. American Senior Communities says that represents about 98% participation among those who live at the facility.
"Get it!” said Buddy Boyd, a 92-year-old resident. “Without a doubt, get it. If you don't get it, you're asking for trouble - I mean real trouble."
Allisonville Meadows reports 35 COVID-19 cases and six deaths from the coronavirus since the pandemic began.
"The older you are, the harder it is on you,” said Myrna Stokes, an 81-year-old resident. “So, that's why I wanted to get the vaccine."
Del Busto says that resistance to getting the vaccine is higher among staff at nursing homes than the residents. CVS Health has scheduled three visits at each facility to allow extra opportunities to get the vaccine.
CVS Health is visiting 319 skilled nursing facilities in Indiana and has completed first dose visits at every location, second doses at 96 percent, and third visits at four percent of those facilities.
CVS Health contracted vaccine clinics at 647 assisted living facilities in Indiana. Every location has received a first dose visit. 30 percent of the facilities have received a second dose visit.
CVS Health reports giving 74,942 COVID-19 vaccine shots as of February 23.
The company expects to complete its vaccine program at long term care facilities in Indiana by April 10.
"So hopefully, this is going to help end the pandemic, slow it down,” said Del Busto. “More from an awareness standpoint, too, getting people to understand how important it is to take all of the steps that you need to do to protect yourself, protect your family members, not only wearing masks and social distancing but now getting the vaccine."