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Local skilled care centers to start COVID shots

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COVID-19 vaccinations are due to start at skilled nursing care centers in Roswell on Monday, according to state and local health officials.

“I am very excited,” said Karen Lupien, administrator for Mission Arch Care Center. “I am not the only one that is excited about it. It has been a long year, so we are waiting for it.”

Mission Arch has been scheduled for its Moderna vaccination clinic for staff and residents for Monday.

Lupien said on Thursday that she was still determining how many people at Mission Arch would be getting the vaccines. The Moderna vaccine has been reported as more than 94% effective in preventing infection and severe symptoms due to the new coronavirus, according to information posted on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Some people also have reported some side effects, including allergic reactions. People vaccinated might still be carriers — able to transmit the virus — according to information released by the CDC, the New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Aging and Long-term Services Department.

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Health care workers with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies will conduct the vaccination clinics at care facilities in the local area.

Dawn Gonzales, director of nursing at Casa Maria Health Care Center, confirmed that staff and residents at Casa Maria also were scheduled for a vaccine clinic Monday.

She said its clinic would be operated by Walgreens Pharmacy.

She chose not to release the numbers of people to be involved but said, “it’s more residents than staff.”

Casa Maria’s sister facility is Sunset Villa Care Center. Both are owned by Fundamental Long-Term Care Inc. based in Maryland.

Information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that Sunset Villa will have a vaccine clinic on Wednesday, said Sarah Jacobs, general counsel for the Aging and Long-term Services Department.

She said only Mission Arch, Casa Maria and Sunset Village are on the list so far.

MaryBeth Lawrence, the administrator for Peachtree Village Retirement Community, and a manager at Heartfelt Manor Home, an assisted living home, said that they have not yet heard about when clinics might occur for their facilities. They are not licensed nursing care centers.

Jacobs said that pharmacies are working to develop a schedule to provide vaccinations at assisted living communities and other long-term care homes in Roswell.

Calls to other nursing and care centers in Roswell were not returned by press time.

The Aging and Long-term Services Department and New Mexico Department of Health issued a Dec. 26 announcement about the start of COVID vaccination clinics in the state on Dec. 27.

The release indicated that about 15,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine have been allocated for staff and residents of care facilities. The vaccine requires that each person receives two doses, 28 days apart.

The state departments said that care centers are considered part of Phase 1a for vaccinations. That group also includes health care workers and hospital patients, which started receiving the vaccines in the Roswell area in mid-December.

Which people will be considered part of Phase 1b and Phase 1c is still being determined by state and local officials, but state officials have said those groups are likely to include essential workers such as first responders or infrastructure workers and populations considered vulnerable to severe symptoms or possible death such as seniors, people with other medical conditions or people living in at-risk communities.

State officials are estimating that it will take at least a couple of months into 2021 to vaccinate all three Phase 1 groups.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.