Stephens Co. facilities cautiously optimistic as vaccinations begin for nursing homes

Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 10:21 PM CST
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STEPHENS COUNTY, Okla. (TNN) - The first round of coronavirus vaccinations began today, December 22, for Oklahoma nursing home residents and staff.

Oklahoma is in phase one of its vaccination process - that includes nursing homes and long term care facilities.

“We are so thankful to see hopefully the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” said Melanie Wilkins, owner and asst. administrator at Wilkins Health & Rehabilitation Community

Wilkins said at her facility, Vaccinations won’t start until after the New Year. Right now, they are working on the list of staff and residents who want to receive it.

“I know Dr. Fauci has said that 75 percent of the population need to take this to reap the benefits. We are hoping that at least 75 percent of our population here,” said Wilkins.

Another center in Stephens County has its first round scheduled for Wednesday. An administrator said vaccines don’t automatically mean re-opening to the public, no matter how much they want to.

“We have no liability protection in OK and families expect us to open back up, but if you look there are cases across the US where long term care administrators are being held criminally responsible for covid deaths,” said Jessica Garvin, administrator at Gregston Nursing Home Inc

Part of that is because they aren’t mandating immunizations -- Garvin adds that even if they did, who knows what the residents and staff’s family are choosing to do.

“Because we aren’t forcing people to do that, we can’t guarantee we will just be back open tomorrow because we don’t know the impact,” said Garvin.

Wilkins said they are still working on a plan to have those who receive one and those who don’t co-exist.

“We are looking to the CDC and other leadership to help us figure that out. We will be seeing whose had it, who has not and what kind of risk they have,” said Wilkins.

Both ask for the families to be patient, as the facilities still have many logistical factors to work out.

The state will be in phase one of vaccinations for about a month.

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