N. Idaho assisted living facility still waiting for first COVID vaccine dose

HAYDEN, Idaho — More than 13,000 people in Idaho already received both doses of the COVID vaccine while people living in an assisted living facility in Hayden are still waiting for their first shots.

COVID has devastated long-term care facilities in Washington, Idaho and across the nation.

It’s going to be a little while longer before families get to hug their loved ones again at Peterson Place Assisted Living in Hayden.

“It’s been very challenging for us, very challenging for us and the poor residents,” said Michelle Cook, the director of nurses for Peterson Place.

It’s been a challenge for Cook seeing her residents go through all of this, especially them not being able to see family, too.

The assisted living facility stopped bringing in visitors once COVID started spreading in November.

Of the 16 people who live at the facility, 11 tested positive at one point during the pandemic.

“The symptoms are much, lasting much longer than I thought. It’s been really hard,” Cook said.

Cook said she expected the vaccine to get to them at the end of December. Yet, we’re at the end of January and they’re still waiting.

“I think felt a little left out, my facility, being late January getting the vaccine,” she said.

Cook said they’re actually scheduled to get the vaccine on Friday, but it’s been frustrating especially since other groups in Idaho already received their vaccines.

Long-term care facilities are supposed to be one of the first groups to get it.

“What was most disheartening and frustrating for me is I’m not seeing not necessarily the most essential people getting it, my staff members and my residents, my residents of all, really. I think they should’ve gotten it immediately,” she said.

RELATED: K-12 staff in North Idaho receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Peterson Place Assisted Living took part in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the program with CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies to help vaccinate long-term care facilities.

The Panhandle Health District said 90 percent of long-term care facilities in Idaho opted to go with that program.

It’s been a slow rollout as CNN reports other officials across the country are criticizing its process, experiencing the same delays.

The program is not one the Panhandle Health District created or facilitates, but it is working with the program to get updates for facilities in its area.

“What we do know is some of the pharmacies who had originally opted to assist some of the long term care facilities here, they realized some of our care facilities are in rural areas that they literally cannot reach. In those cases, we’ve stepped into help,” said Katherine Hoyer, the public information officer for the Panhandle Health District.

Peterson Place isn’t the only facility waiting to get the vaccine in north Idaho. Cook said she’s talked with a few others who are going through the same thing they are.

Hoyer says all long-term care facilities in the district have already received their vaccines or are scheduled to get it soon.

As for the rest of the public, Hoyer says the district is still working through Phase 1A, vaccinating health care workers and more. They’re also working on groups in 1B, including K-12 employees, child care workers, first responders and more.

“Come February, we’re hoping to start scheduling and vaccinating those 65 and older,” Hoyer said.

Though Cook has to wait for her residents and her staff to get vaccinated, she’s still happy it’s happening.

“I’m just grateful they’re getting it at all,” Cook said.

RELATED: All WA nursing home residents have received first round of vaccine, DOH says

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