Push to Vaccinate Nursing Home Workers Meets with Mixed Results

According to news reports, residents of nursing homes account for roughly half of the reported deaths from COVID-19.  The reason for this is relatively obvious, as seniors tend to have a higher-than-average number of co-morbidities and tend to have immune systems that are less robust than younger people.  Against this backdrop, there has been a strong push to vaccinate nursing home residents as well as staff members.  Staffers, however, have been resisting vaccinations.  Here in NJ, recent reports indicate that approximately 60% of workers in nursing homes have refused the vaccination.  Other studies have indicated that approximately 2/3 of nursing home staffers have cited fears over side effects as the primary reason for their skepticism to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

An analysis of more than 8,200 Indiana nursing home and assisted living workers was recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (https://agsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jgs.17022).  The results indicate that 69% of staff were either willing to receive a federally approved vaccine or would consider doing so at a later date. Approximately 23% said they would be unwilling to receive the vaccine. Of those who were unwilling, approximately 70% cited a fear of side effects, 20% questioned the medications’ effectiveness and 12% expressed religious reasons to support their refusal.

Researchers have argued that the level of pushback will impact our ability, as a society, to realize meaningful protection against serious illness and death or a return to normalcy, as that requires a “strong uptake of the vaccines.”   The authors of the study concluded that:

“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 analysis comes after an early December survey of certified nursing assistants found that nearly ¾ expressed that they were unwilling to take the vaccine.  More information on the survey can be found here: (https://www.barrons.com/articles/crisis-hit-care-homes-face-covid-vaccine-challenge-51608192341)

Contacting an experienced nursing home lawyer at  Davis & Brusca, LLC can ensure that the patient’s legal rights are protected and that a proper investigation is done and follow up visits take place.