The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nursing homes is well documented. For more than a year, countless elderly residents were denied face-to-face visits with their loved ones. While family members could not get into the facilities, the deadly virus found its way in, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths in care centers throughout the country.
Yet, even with restrictions lifted and the push for vaccinations continuing, that deadly number may rise even more.
A disproportion in vaccinations
Nearly 60 percent of nursing home staff are fully vaccinated. While that number is similar to the overall national average, it is lower than the 80 percent of nursing home residents who are vaccinated. Policy experts pressuring federal leaders to mandate vaccinations for nursing home staff are being met with resistance to take that step.
They fear that staff members are skittish about getting vaccinations due to the FDA not fully approving the drugs. Instead of a shot, they will simply quit their jobs and pursue other employment.
The recent emergence of the Delta variant only increases the urgency. While most of the vaccinated who contract that type of coronavirus will experience mild symptoms, older adults who do not respond fully to the vaccine could face serious, if not fatal, consequences.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that nursing home staff’s confirmed infections and deaths had dropped significantly since January. However, July saw that number starting to rise again.
Nursing home residents have bored the brunt of COVID-19. Denied personal contact with family and not being able to leave their facilities took a toll. Many of them died. Those who were stricken but survived now deal with severe respiratory issues and other health problems.
While the “easy answer” remains elusive, protecting their health is paramount. Those in nursing homes nationwide have already suffered enough loss.