Texas living facilities should be required to offer vaccines to residents, advocates say

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With a coronavirus vaccine now on Texas soil, immunization advocates are calling on state lawmakers to improve access for vulnerable populations.

A proposal from the Immunization Partnership would require congregate living facilities, like nursing homes and jails, to offer vaccines to residents who want them.

“We all can be doing, and need to be doing, a better job education adults about the value and importance of vaccinations,” said Rekha Lakshmanan, director of policy at the Immunization Partnership.

The proposal would also require that facilities offer residents to enroll in the state’s immunization registry, ImmTrac2. The registry allows patients to keep track of their immunization history but is underutilized due to its ‘opt-in’ structure.

“A lot of facilities do offer vaccines to their residents,” Lakshmanan said. “We see this as an opportunity to really tighten that up.”

Continental Retirement Community in Austin has offered on-site vaccinations to residents for years and through a federal partnership with CVS will soon provide free coronavirus vaccines to residents who them.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activate the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care vaccinations in the third week of distribution—that’s on Dec. 28.

“Access is key when you talk about health care,” said Everret Williams, executive director of Continental Retirement Community. “A lot of residents are excited, they can’t wait to get their dose. They’re really ready to get back out into the world.”

The Immunization Partnership’s proposal would not require residents to be vaccinated or enroll in the state immunization registry. The organization is still seeking a state lawmaker to sponsor the legislation.

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