Now that my loved one is vaccinated, when can I see them?

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 According to a publication this month from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):

Both CMS and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognize the importance of visiting your relatives as part of staying healthy. You can now visit your loved ones inside when the positivity rate in your nursing home’s county is less than 10%. In addition, if the positivity rate in your nursing home’s county is more than 10%, and less than 70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated, then only residents who are fully vaccinated should receive visitors.

In the case of an outbreak at a facility, indoor visitation is still possible, as long as COVID-19 transmission is contained to a single area of the facility. If your loved one is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with you as long as they are wearing a well-fitting face mask.

Outdoor visits are also safer when weather is good. You can check with your nursing home or local health department to find out more information on visiting your loved one. More information on CMS’ visitation guidance can be found on their website at https://www.cms.gov, including compassionate care visits and visitor vaccination. We are constantly weighing the risks of spreading COVID-19 with the risks of expanding visitation. You can also visit https://www.cdc.gov for more information.

Some nursing home residents and staff are not vaccinated or haven’t received their second doses. So, not everyone in a nursing home is protected from COVID-19 yet and could be infected by visitors. Although a vaccinated person may not “feel” sick from COVID-19, they could be infected and/or spread the virus to others. For example, if a vaccinated resident contracts the virus from a staff member or visitor, that resident will likely be protected from the disease, but could put an unvaccinated resident or staff member at serious risk.

Nursing home staff, patients, residents, and visitors need to continue practicing the 3 W’s: Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Watch your distance. Nursing homes must continue to implement all current CDC infection control guidance and adhere to CMS’ regulations and guidance for testing. As vaccination increases and COVID-19 cases decrease, we anticipate more visitation and social interaction among residents, friends, family, and loved ones. The CDC and CMS will continue to learn and make updates to visitation over the coming months.

The sooner we have more people vaccinated and fewer people getting sick, the sooner we can visit and hug the nursing home residents we love.

To get started as an Ombudsman Volunteer, contact one of your local Ombudsman Supervisors-- Tiffany Wingfield, 580-775-7478 or Rebekah Williams, 580-775-5314. You can also call the SODA Area Agency on Aging at 580-920-1388 or Senior Information Line at 1-800-211-2116 or mail at P.O. Box 709 Durant, Ok. 74702.

Ombudsman Supervisors are also available to speak to your group or organization upon request. Flexible training schedules for volunteers are available.