Board members of a Rye nursing home who received the COVID-19 vaccine last month did not take doses away from workers or residents, the nursing home’s administrator said Wednesday.
“It was bad judgment,” said Tom Argue, Webster at Rye administrator, to allow people not part of the “1-A” top-priority group to get the vaccine. It is unknown how many of the 11 board members were vaccinated.
The state has been focusing its vaccination efforts on residents and staff of nursing homes, health care workers and first responders.
As of Wednesday, the state has received more than 124,000 doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A little more than 55,000 people have received their first dose.
In an effort to speed vaccinations, the Trump administration said Tuesday it would release hundreds of thousands more doses to the states and would recommend vaccinating everyone over 65. But the state has not decided whether it will change the order in which people get the vaccine.
CVS is responsible for vaccinating about three-quarters of the state’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, Patricia Tilley of the state Department of Health and Human Services said in a Zoom call with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Wednesday. Walgreens is handling the remainder.
Argue said it was the wrong call to let board members get vaccines at the Dec. 30 clinic, but he said the situation was confusing.
CVS told Argue they would vaccinate paid and unpaid employees, as well as residents. “It was my personal interpretation this meant consultants and volunteers,” Argue said in an email.
Argue said his board is volunteer, and many members are older, but he said he wishes now he had checked with state health officials to make sure it was appropriate for CVS to vaccinate board members.
The CVS crew that came to Webster at Rye was too small, Argue said, and the line moved slowly. Argue said a few employees chose to leave rather than wait in a long line and did not receive vaccines on Dec. 30.
Only about 60% of staff wanted vaccines in December, Argue said. Some did not feel comfortable getting the vaccine so soon after its approval for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
By this month, about 90% wanted doses after seeing their coworkers have negligible side effects, he said. The next vaccine clinic is Jan. 20.
Argue didn’t say the exact number of staff who wanted vaccines on Dec. 30 but didn’t want to wait in line, but said it was “very few.”
Brendan Williams, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, a trade group for nursing homes, said he has been frustrated with the vaccination programs run by the big pharmacy chains.
Williams said nursing homes in New Hampshire report having to “badger” the pharmacies to set up vaccine clinics. He said the nurses who work in nursing homes could probably have administered doses more quickly.