CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State estimates around 91 percent of all COVID vaccine doses dedicated to reaching residents and staff at long term care facilities have been successfully administered. Capital Region nursing homes report they’re doing very well at reaching residents, but lagging when it comes to convincing staff.
“People have a right to be nervous about a vaccine. I understand that, but we have to be sensible that there’s risk in not taking the vaccine and the risk that more people will die,” says Albany County Legislator Mark Grimm.
Grimm says he was shocked to learn in Wednesday’s Elder Care Community meeting that even though the home is close to vaccinating 90 percent of residents, only 154 out of 259 staff at Shaker Place agreed to take the vaccine.
“It’s still not the number we would like to see. So we’re probably around 55-60 percent,” explains Shaker Place Director Larry Slakty.
The NYS Department of Health confirms only 50 percent of Capital Region long term care staff have been vaccinated and only 44 percent statewide. Meanwhile, the Capital Region has successfully vaccinated 82 percent of residents, and a total 72 percent of all residents across New York have received at least their first doses.
Over at the Schenectady County Glendale Home, Administrator Lori Tambasco says their clinics in partnership with CVS reached 92.5 percent of residents, but around 40 percent of her staff also refused the vaccine.
“It’s a personal choice, and people have to make the decisions for themselves,” Tambasco explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
“I’m not for forcing anyone to take it, in fact the law prohibits that in New York, but we need to convince people that yeah there’s risk involved in all vaccines, but the benefits outweigh the risks,” says Grimm.
Frank McLoughlin, Shaker Place’s Director of Staff Development, says as medical professionals, it’s unsurprising his nurses and staff are slow to trust something so unknown.
“We look to science to give us the information so we can make the right decisions, and I think that there was a fear that there wasn’t enough current information that addressed all the things that you needed to address,” he explains.
He also adds there’s the additional strain of fighting against social media rumors and conspiracies.
“There was so much misinformation, that I really don’t think people knew what to focus on. All the way down to ridiculous things like the government would implant a chip in you with the vaccine or even Bill Gates will control you or something like that. There’s people who really believe that,” says McLoughlin.
Both Shaker Place and Glendale have focused heavily on getting informational brochures, dedicating seminars and one-on-one consultations to easing concerns.
“We’ve set up a table right at the area where they clock in so we can get them right at the door, so to speak, hand out the information and answer questions,” says Slatky.
“We have not just gotten people who are on the fence to say yes, we have gotten people who refused outright to change their minds once they’ve been presented with good and comprehensive information,” says McLoughlin.
“A lot of us were vaccinated already and we’re doing okay, so hopefully — you know, what people read on the Internet, it might not always be the truth — so hopefully they see that we’re okay, and they’ll make whatever decision they need to make for themselves,” says Tambasco.