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More than 1,200 adult care homes in Oregon still waiting on the COVID vaccine

Adult care homes are in the state’s 1A group to be vaccinated, but more than 1,200 facilities don’t know when the vaccine will arrive for residents.

Gina Roberts runs an adult care home in Tigard, called A Place to Call Home.

She's tried to get her five residents and employees vaccinated since December and has the emails and paperwork to prove it.

“They’ve been so looking forward to it because they want to see their families again,” said Roberts.

She said her residents are in their nineties, have mobility issues, or are on oxygen, so she can’t take them to a drive-through or mass vaccination clinic.

“My daughter talks to me through the door. I'm lonely,” said 78-year-old Carol, a resident there. "I would like to have more personal contact that would be important."

There are more than 1,400 adult care homes in Oregon licensed with the state. These are smaller facilities run out of people’s homes.

According to guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, these adult care facilities are in the state’s 1A vaccination group, meaning they should have gone first.

RELATED: What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines in Oregon

While the adult care homes are supposed to get the vaccine through a federal program, only 172 of the 1,400 homes have registered so far.

Fred Steele, the governor's appointed long-term care ombudsman, said the state didn't do a good enough job communicating with the adult care home owners on how to get their residents the vaccine.

“The effort in Oregon, in hindsight, wasn't coordinated and organized enough for them to get registered,” said Steele. “So the concern now is ensuring that they're connecting with their local public health at the county level to make sure that they get the vaccines.”

Even the places that did register are having problems.

Roberts signed up and was scheduled to get the vaccine to her facility through CVS on Feb. 10. After receiving several emails from the pharmacy chain, she said they canceled the clinic at her home.

A CVS customer service representative told Roberts in an email, “We cannot service your facility based on not having a common area outside the home and/or oversight coordinator."

Roberts replied that she is the coordinator and her facility has a common area, but the representative stopped responding.

RELATED: Here's the plan for vaccine appointments in the Portland area after snow forces cancellations

Roberts said she doesn't know what to tell her residents or their families.

“I’ve had people that have passed away in the last few months that didn't get to see their families. You know, it's not right. It's been hard on everyone. I know that, but they're supposed to be in the first group. They're the people that are at the most risk,” said Roberts.

Washinton County Public Health officials told KGW they are working with the state to come up with a plan to vaccinate people who are homebound. 

The Oregon Department of Human Services sent a letter to all adult foster care facilities Tuesday, February 16, 2021, and said licensing staff with the DHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities will be contacting them over the next few weeks to:

• Determine if you have established a connection with a pharmacy partner that may not yet be finalized;

• Reassign providers to new vaccine partners if needed; and,

• Address mobility concerns you may have regarding your residents and work to establish a connection to a mobile clinic option.

CVS sent the following statement to KGW:

“CVS Health is working closely with our partners at the Oregon Health Authority and across the state to ensure all residents and staff of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities receive their COVID-19 vaccinations in a timely fashion. In this case, despite our efforts we were unable to confirm that the facility meets program requirements, such as a facility coordinator being present and the availability of a suitable common area to support the clinic.

“CVS Health remains deeply committed to completing the vaccination of residents and staff at the more than 40,000 long-term care centers assigned to us. Since beginning COVID-19 vaccinations at long-term care facilities in Oregon on December 21st, we have completed 100 percent of first doses and 95 percent of second doses at 44 skilled nursing facilities, as well as 71 percent of first doses and 19 percent of second doses at 410 assisted living facilities, administering a total of more than 23,300 doses as of February 15th.”

CVS has not responded to mulitple requests on if they plan to reschedule.

Do you have a story idea for Cristin? Email her at CallCristin@KGW.com

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