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Mandating Staff Vaccinations in Care Facilities Will Require a Delicate Approach

This week AM Analysts researched a topic of growing concern: mandated vaccines for long-term care facilities staff. While one might assume that healthcare workers, never mind those who are working with the elderly, would be vaccinated at a significantly higher rate than the general public. Oddly enough, they are not. 

Even though we are approaching a year after healthcare workers were able to easily obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, only 60% of them have gotten the jab. However, the rates of vaccination vary widely between states and differ widely between the facilities themselves. For example, in Kentucky, nursing home vaccination rates range from zero to 90%. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nursing home deaths due to COVID-19 had quadrupled between June 20 to July 25. As many states have been attempting to pressure employers to mandate vaccinations, seven states have already banned mandates. While many are redundant, over 121 bills have been introduced in states to ban employer mandates as well. 

Last week, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a deadline of October 1 for all healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The mandate applies to all healthcare workers, including assisted living and any other long-term care workers. 

The decision puts Maine with an increasing number of other states requiring healthcare and long-term care staff to be vaccinated, joining California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and Washington.

Now, President Biden is joining the push as well. Last Wednesday, the President announced that all nursing home staff that work for a facility using Medicare and Medicaid must be vaccinated. If they do not, they risk losing their federal funding. Biden stated, “If you visit, live, or work in a nursing home, you should not be at a high risk for contracting COVID from unvaccinated employees.”

Once again, there is a politically derived split occurring between states that mandate vaccinations for healthcare and long-term care workers. Unless states like Kentucky start pressuring their workers, and citizens in general, the inequity of damage the pandemic is causing will only increase.

 

AM LLC is currently working nationwide with multiple states and public health agencies on testing, contact tracing, and vaccination programs. Counties, states, or K-12 partners that are interested in partnering with AM for COVID-19 mitigation support should contact Dr. Christopher K Orlea at c.orlea@amllc.co.

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