New survey reveals acceptance rates, continued need for COVID-19 vaccines in long-term care
HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/14/2021) –– As eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine expands to all adults in Pennsylvania, and the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine halted by Pennsylvania’s Department of Health, long-term care providers throughout the commonwealth continue to struggle to vaccinate new residents and staff, following the conclusion of the Federal Pharmacy Partnership program. The Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) conducted a survey of 83 of its members and identified five percent of residents and staff in nursing homes, assisted living communities and personal care homes are still waiting for the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Thirty-five percent of the respondents are still trying to develop plans to secure vaccines, especially as new residents and newly hired workers need to be vaccinated.
“This sampling of Pennsylvania’s long-term care providers demonstrates a clear need for a state plan so that we can continue to vaccinate our most vulnerable residents and their providers of care,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. “Without a plan, we risk the return of another spring surge, and ultimately the lives of thousands of long-term care residents. We have been adamant since mid-December: we must ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is easily accessible for those at the epicenter of the pandemic.”
The Federal Pharmacy Partnership program was expected to conclude on April 9. While cases and deaths have significantly decreased, 39 percent of all reported COVID-19 nursing home deaths occurred during the vaccine rollout.
Federally reported COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania’s nursing homes have dropped 97 percent for residents and 94 percent for staff since peak cases in December. This data further demonstrates the need for continued vaccinations.
- Resident COVID-19 cases: 2,792 (12/13) to 78 (3/14) — 97.2% drop in cases
- Staff COVID-19 cases: 2,128 (12/13) to 131 (3/14) — 93.84% drop in cases
In contrast, it was announced earlier this week that Michigan’s nursing homes were seeing more than a 600% increase in COVID-19 cases, with vaccine acceptance rates hovering near 70 percent of residents and 50 percent of staff.
COVID-19 vaccination acceptance rates are higher among PHCA members, according to survey data. The following percentages are based on the results from 83 survey respondents:
“Cases among our frontline workers are dropping at a similar rate as our residents, but we are beginning to see increasing case numbers in our surrounding communities. We cannot afford to regress now. Let’s protect our healthcare heroes and those they serve,” said Shamberg.
The survey also identified that 90 percent of respondents are offering visitation to reunite family members with their loved ones in long-term care. The remaining 10 percent shared they currently have a COVID-19 outbreak or are in a county with a high COVID-19 positivity rate and a low resident vaccine acceptance rate.
Pennsylvania currently ranks as one of the states with the most active COVID-19 cases. For providers to help prevent outbreaks and continue reopening their doors to family and loved ones, vaccinations for new residents and workers must be made available. PHCA will continue its call to state leaders for a plan.