1 million LTC staff unboosted as COVID cases tick up, AARP analysis shows –

Nursing homes have seen steady gains in COVID-19 booster vaccinations. But 1 million staff and a third of residents nationwide have not yet received additional shots to bump up the protection provided by their primary series, according to a new analysis of federal data by AARP.

Some states are particularly behind, the elder advocacy group reported late last week. And the news comes during an uptick in nursing home infections, leaving those staff and residents at risk, it added.

Protection provided by COVID-19 vaccination has been shown to fade at about four months — especially against infection, studies have found. But three doses of an mRNA vaccine provide better protection than two doses and 90% protection against death from COVID-19, others have shown. 

A lack of urgency about additional shots in the nursing home sector will erase recent gains in infection control and prevention, experts have warned the industry. And those gains are substantial. In the four weeks ending April 17, resident and staff cases each fell by one half, and resident deaths were the lowest recorded during the pandemic, AARP reported.

At the same time, most residents and staff (88% and 89%) were fully vaccinated, having received two doses of an mRNA vaccine or one of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Yet despite an ongoing increase in booster uptake, only about 70% of residents and 46% of staff had received at least one additional dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The booster rate “isn’t where it should be,” analysis co-author Ari Houser said

AARP in January called on nursing homes to require COVID-19 boosters for residents and staff. Although the federal government required staff to be vaccinated with a primary series in August 2021, that mandate did not cover booster doses.

Overall, only 30% of U.S. seniors have received a COVID-19 booster shot.

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