Employees at Northampton County’s Nursing Home start to receive COVID vaccines

Written by on December 30, 2020

Employees at Northampton County’s Nursing Home start to receive COVID vaccines

By Brittany Sweeney

December 30, 2020

AP photo

COVID vaccines are now being administered to the employees of Gracedale, Northampton County’s nursing home. Staff members at Gracedale also have a $750 cash incentive to get the shots.

Listen to the story.

The Administrator of Gracedale nursing home in Northampton County was first in line for the COVID Vaccine Tuesday. The county-run nursing home has been hard-hit by coronavirus infections.

Jennifer Stewart-King says about half the staff were vaccinated on a first come first served basis. She calls this the first step to re-opening.

“This is going to mean that visitors and families can come in, our volunteer departments can come in, the pet therapy can come in, this is so imperative to get this done,” she says.

County Executive Lamont McClure explained the program on the PBS39 show: Community Update on the Coronavirus.

McClure says that 85% of the deaths in Northampton County from COVID-19 at one point were residents of long-term care facilities.

“Some of the people who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 in long-term care facilities like Gracedale are people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. And …those folks can’t protect themselves. So we have to protect them. And part of the way we do that, as we get staff vaccinated.”

The 665 Gracedale employees were offered $750 from CARES Act funding to get the inoculations which Stewart-King says definitely swayed people to get the shot.

“The CARES money was essential in making sure that we had an infection prevention method here. I reached out, and to me there is no greater infectious prevention method than getting a vaccine to a virus,” she says. 

About a third of the staff got the vaccination on Dec. 29, and the hope is to get at least 200 of the more than 530 residents vaccinated on Jan. 3.

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