Reasons for delayed booster rates
Some nursing home operators say the delay in staffing is due to the fact that many workers are not eligible for the extra shots; either they are not five months after their first vaccination series yet, or they have currently or recently had COVID-19 and have been recommended to wait. Approximately 1 in 8 nursing home workers nationwide was recently infected with COVID-19 between December 27 and January 23, according to AARP’s analysis.
However, given that about 60 percent of nursing home workers were fully vaccinated in mid-July and therefore likely to be eligible for a booster in mid-December, it is likely that workers will waive the booster shots of others causes, experts say.
Many employees are unsure of the official guidance for boosters or are tired of constantly changing guidance, says Glen Lewis, CEO of the Edgewater Senior Booster Society in West Des Moines, Iowa. “It makes some people delay or just give up trying to keep up.”
Other operators attribute the delays to the ongoing hesitation with vaccine. “So much misinformation about [vaccines and boosters] continues to run out in our community, still after two years of this public health crisis, “a spokesman for LeadingAge wrote in an email to AARP. The organization represents more than 5,000 non-profit aging service providers.
Delays in receiving consent from resident representatives, long waits for pharmacy partners to provide on-site vaccinations and widespread staff shortages in the healthcare sector are also reasons for delays, according to operators.
The lack of a coherent federal campaign to bring boosters to the nursing home population can also have some effect, says Jennifer Kates, senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
“At the beginning of the U.S. vaccine rollout, there was a lot of focus and effort to reach them in nursing homes,” says Kates, highlighting the federal campaign that sent teams from CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies to long-term care facilities with COVID-19 vaccines, from December 2020 to March 2021.
“I think all that attention and concern resulted in inclusion in these populations, but we have not seen the same push on the booster side.”
The lack of staff hit the pandemic hard
Since last fall, about 30 percent of nursing homes across the country have consistently reported shortages of nurses or caregivers each month, according to AARP’s analysis. That number jumped to nearly 40 percent in the past four-week period analyzed by AARP, representing the worst deficiencies reported throughout the pandemic.
In some states, including Alaska, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, the shortage is particularly severe, with more than 60 percent of facilities nationwide reporting staff shortages.
There are low staff in nursing homes, especially among nurses associated with poorer outcomes for residentsincluding more COVID-19 cases, deaths and greater likelihood of an outbreak.
The record-breaking COVID-19 infection rates among workers during the omicron rise are mainly to blame for the increases in shortages, experts say. But other factors, including high levels of burnout among workers and the federal vaccination mandate for workers at health facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid, may have some effect.
There are reports of nursing home staff – who kept one of the most deadly jobs of 2020 To leave the field for other positions with better pay, benefits and working conditions. Most Certified Nurses (CNAs), who make up the largest group of long-term care staff and provide more than 90 percent of direct residential care, earn less than $ 15 an hour. Many do not qualify for paid sick leave or unemployment benefits. The vast majority are women, including many coloreds and immigrants.
After months of legal challenges, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements for staff at Medicare- and Medicaid-certified healthcare facilities – which include most nursing homes – are also now enforced in all states after a most recent Supreme Court ruling failed state challenges. Around half of all states have until March 28 to fully vaccinate their staff before issuing fines while they second half of the states has until April 14.