New outbreaks in some states, including Florida, Colorado, Indiana and Louisiana, have forced some homes to once again limit visitors and impose other restrictions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that it was monitoring the Delta variant’s infections in nursing homes to see if “additional measures are needed.”
“The bottom line is the vaccine is the No. 1, 2 and 3 thing we have to fight this pandemic, everywhere, but especially in nursing homes,” said Dr. Michael Wasserman, a geriatrician and former president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine, who has reluctantly come to believe mandates are necessary.
So far, the nursing home industry has stopped short of endorsing a vaccination mandate, even as major medical organizations have signed onto calls for the requirement among health care workers, and as more hospitals are requiring the vaccine for employees.
Last week, the American Health Care Association, the nursing home industry’s main trade group, instead said it supported continued efforts to educate workers.
The vaccination rate is shy of the industry’s goal of having 75 percent of workers immunized by the end of June, mirroring instead the country’s overall rate for adults.
“It’s terribly frustrating,” Mark Parkinson, the chief executive of the industry’s main trade group, said of the hesitancy of people to resist vaccines, including in the nursing home industry. “If everybody would get vaccinated this pandemic would end,” he added.
But, he said, nursing home providers are wary of mandates, worrying that they could lose workers during “one of the worst labor shortages” in the nation’s recent history.