Nursing home residents and staff were among the first people eligible for coronavirus vaccine shots. However, experts, advocates and family members of residents complain the process is too slow. 40% of all COVID deaths are from nursing home employees and residents. There’s no timeline for when CVS and Walgreens will complete all of the vaccinations at long-term care facilities.
“Those individuals continue to be our most medically fragile and those most impacted by the coronavirus,” said Lauren Zingraff, executive director of Friends of Residents in Long-Term Care.
In North Carolina, CVS officials said state officials dictated the types of facilities they were to go to first. The CVS teams visit each location and prioritize the most at-risk patients. Recently, North Carolina’s updated priority list opened up vaccinations to a broader population.
Researchers argue that vaccinations hold promise of protection against serious illness and death, and a return to normalcy for long-term care facilities, but that promise cannot be realized without a “strong uptake of the vaccines.”
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published full findings of a study on caregivers. 23% said they would be unwilling to receive the vaccine because it’s “too new,” a lack of trust, the need for more research or because the topic is too political, according to the study.
“Long-term care staff will be weighing both risks to the resident they care for, and their own beliefs and personal concerns when they make decisions regarding receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The rates of willingness to receive the vaccine found in this survey are a positive sign and may be able to be improved with dedicated education and outreach efforts,” the authors concluded.
Of the workers who were unwilling to take the vaccine, 70% cited concerns about side effects, while 20% questioned the medications’ effectiveness and 12% expressed religious reasons as to why they would receive the doses. More than two-thirds of nursing home staffers in NC also cited associated side effects as the top reason for why they’re skeptical to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new study.
The analysis comes after an early December survey of certified nursing assistants found that nearly three out of four of the workers said they wouldn’t take the vaccine, citing skepticism over the rapidity of its launch and lack of information on potential risks.
North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen says most nursing home workers are refusing coronavirus vaccines.