Genesis HealthCare is the nation’s largest nursing home chain with 357 facilities and nearly 42,000 skilled nursing beds. They recently issued a “universal” COVID-19 vaccine policy for all employees, care partners and onsite vendors. Universal COVID-19 vaccination provides the safest and most effective course of action to ensure the health and welfare of patients, residents and staff.
The Genesis statement called making vaccinations a condition of doing business “the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all healthcare workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being.”
This is a big deal because smaller chains will now adopt the same standard policy. The only concern is that some employees against getting vaccinated may leave their jobs. So what? Good riddance? Do you really want a caregiver who does not understand or respect science and infection control taking care of your loved one?
“I have come full circle,” said Michael Wasserman, a member of California’s Vaccine Advisory Committee and past president of the California Association of Long-Term Care Medicine. “It is abundantly clear that if all nursing home staff were vaccinated, that we would dramatically impact nursing home deaths from COVID-19.”
Nursing homes are deadly epicenters of the pandemic. More than 200,000 nursing home residents and staff in the U.S. have lost their lives to the virus. Despite being the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine against COVID-19 due to their vulnerable population of older adults, many caregivers refuse to receive a vaccination. Vaccination rates among nursing home staff members are lagging far behind.
During 2021, evidence links COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths to unvaccinated caregivers at the facility. It is outrageous that caregivers would intentionally increase the risk of death for these vulnerable residents. Families are also concerned that another lockdown may be necessary if caregivers refuse vaccinations. these lockdowns hurt residents, families, and caregivers.