TUESDAY, December 14, 2021 (HealthDay News) – As COVID-19 cases grow across the country, only about half of fully vaccinated nursing home residents have received vaccine booster doses, reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Studies show that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines it may decrease over time, especially among people aged 65 and over, and early studies suggest that vaccinated people need increased resources to maintain adequate protection against Omicron variant.
On September 24, the CDC recommended that all elderly people and residents of long-term care facilities be given an additional vaccine against COVID-19. However, by the end of October, only about a quarter of fully vaccinated nursing home residents had received the supplement, and the rate is now 51%, although 80% are eligible for the supplement, according to new CDC data.
According to latest CDC data, 87% of U.S. nursing home residents are fully vaccinated, compared to 60% of the general population.
Earlier in COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has worked with large pharmacy chains to provide vaccinations to nursing home residents across the country, but a similar program is not in place for boosters.
“My feeling is that every nursing home understands that on its own,” Brian McGarry said CNN. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester whose research focuses on aging. “I’ve heard anecdotes from some nursing homes that – as in many aspects of the economy and health care – there is a shortage of pharmacists. They try to serve the general public and don’t have staff to send people out to nursing homes to run internal clinics.”
Sara Roszak, vice president of health and good health strategy for the National Association of Drugstore Chains, said the focus has shifted to Americans coming to local drugstores to receive their injections. But she added that there is “flexibility” so nursing homes can turn to pharmacies for help if they want to get amps in the arms of residents, CNN reported.
Growing concerns are relative low vaccination rates of nursing home staff. According to CNN, in some states less than two-thirds of staff are fully vaccinated.
“It’s very alarming that unvaccinated staff is coming. The work is very intimate, very close and personal, and even with good personal protective equipment there is a high risk of exposure,” McGarry said. CNN. “Vaccines seem to make a difference.”
“Getting those first doses to staff who are still unvaccinated should be at the top of the list, and just below that is getting boosters for everyone who qualifies,” McGarry said.
Learn more about the treatment of the disease-enhancing drug COVID-19 vaccines.gov.
SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CNN