Some Long-Term Care Workers Nationwide Avoiding COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccination rates for long-term care facility staff are still a concern nationwide as some people still refuse the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Some Long-Term Care Workers Nationwide Avoiding COVID-19 Vaccine
2 Min Read May 30th, 2021

Overall, Americans embrace the COVID-19 vaccine; however, many people who work with our nation's most vulnerable people refuse to take the vaccine.

In Florida, where there are 4.1 million people aged 65 and older, the AARP has found that about 38 percent of long-term care workers have been vaccinated. People living in long-term care facilities are at the most risk for the COVID-19 virus.

Medical professionals and families are expressing concern that so many people in close contact with older people and have various health problems are avoiding vaccination. 

"We know of people in nursing facilities around the state who haven't seen their spouses in months even now," Jeff Johnson, the Director of AARP in Florida told WPEC-TV CBS12 News in West Palm Beach.

Vaccination Encouraged

The CDC does not require employees of long-term care facilities to be vaccinated, but many facilities do require their staff to be vaccinated. These vaccination requirements have created some concern with some employees who, for a variety of reasons, are refusing vaccination.

The Chicago Tribune reported that an employee of an assisted living and memory care facility run by Chicago-based Enlivant refused, on religious grounds, to get vaccinated despite the company's requirement. 

The employee provided the company with a letter from her pastor and volunteered to get tested for COVID-19 weekly. The company denied her request because of the nature of her job and "the threat to yourself and others from remaining unvaccinated."

Federal Rules May Change in Future

The FDA Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 vaccines means the federal government cannot require vaccine use in settings like long-term care facilities. However, once full vaccine approval is expected in mid to late summer of 2021, you will see more widespread requirements put in force. 

On May 11, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) established COVID-19 vaccination requirements for long-term care facilities applicable to both residents and staff. 

The rule adds new requirements for educating residents and staff regarding the benefits and potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, offering the vaccine, and reporting COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutics treatment information to the CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network.

Employers Plan to Require Vaccination - Poll

An ABC News poll showed that 88% of the 1,339 employers surveyed said they planned to require or encourage their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 60% of employers said they would require proof of vaccination from employees, and 57% said they plan to incentivize their employees to be vaccinated.

Vaccine effectiveness data compiled by the CDC indicate that the COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19, including severe illness, among people who are fully vaccinated by 90 percent or more.

Many families with loved ones who are older or in long-term care facilities or receiving in-home care are concerned about COVID-19 infection. Residents who are able to do so are overwhelming getting vaccinated, but families will have better peace of mind once a majority of staff and guests are also vaccinated.

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Editor's Note

Health changes often with little notice. We see changes in our health, body, and mind with longevity. The result is more people than ever require long-term health care either in their homes or in facilities. 

Many family members unexpectedly become caregivers when no planning was put in place beforehand. The role is physically and emotionally demanding. Concern for COVID-19 infection is just one of many concerns. 

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