The CDC classified COVID-19 B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant as a Variant of Concern (VOC). The vast majority of fully vaccinated people who become infected with the delta variant suffer only mild symptoms. Still, many people refuse vaccinations. We need to protect nursing home residents.
Throughout the global pandemic, nursing home residents have suffered isolation and death. Residents represent about 1% of the U.S. population. They account for about 22% of COVID-19 deaths — more than 135,000 people. CMS reports 80% of residents are safe because of vaccinations.
The problem is hesitant staff members. Nationally, only 60% of nursing home staff got the vaccine. Some Southern states have much lower vaccination rates of 40%. This is way too low for herd immunity. We can do better.
Nationally, CDC data proves that vaccinations decreased deaths and infections among residents and staff since January. Low vaccination rates among nursing home staff caused the increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths at facilities this year. The number of staffs deaths increased in July though.
Experts, advocates, and even nursing home operators and lobbyists want to mandate vaccinations. The coalition of associations and healthcare professionals groups views vaccination as a medical ethical imperative. Large statistical evidence of vaccine safety and efficacy supports vaccination as the standard of care.
Experts agree that staff members cause outbreaks because workers bring the virus in from the community before developing symptoms.
Dr. Fikadu Tafesse is assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Medicine. He is lead author of a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found older people have fewer antibodies against the novel coronavirus. Younger vaccine recipients have nearly seven times the level of antibodies. Lab results show a linear drop off with advancing age. He warns:
“Our older populations are potentially more susceptible to the variants even if they are vaccinated. Older people aren’t entirely safe just because they’re vaccinated; the people around them really need to be vaccinated as well.”
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages vaccinations for all eligible people to protect residents. Click here to find vaccine providers near you in South Carolina.
Facebook, Google, Morgan Stanley, The Washington Post, and Netflix require many employees to get vaccinated, with limited exceptions for medical or religious reasons. Be smart. Be safe. Help protect residents and other vulnerable adults. Do your part today.