New York nursing home staff lagging behind residents for COVID-19 vaccination

New York News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After COVID-19 outbreaks were reported at two Rochester-area nursing homes last Friday, there are questions surrounding how many staff members and residents are actually getting vaccinated.

Clifton Springs Nursing Home and DeMay Living Center in Newark reported that 27 residents tested positive for COVID-19. Twenty-four of those individuals had been vaccinated and were asymptomatic. One person, who was not vaccinated, was hospitalized.

At the two nursing homes, roughly 35% to 45% of staff members have been vaccinated, according to Dr. Robert Mayo with Rochester Regional Health. For residents, the vaccination rate is between 80% to 90%. According to the Health Department’s website, 34 Monroe County nursing homes self-report vaccination rates. Of those, twenty-one had under 60% of staff fully vaccinated. 

Mayo says this trend follows the rest of the state.

Dr. Edward Walsh, an Infectious Disease Expert at Rochester Regional Health, says staff at nursing homes should be getting vaccinated and the concept of vaccinating is two-fold. “One, you don’t want to lose staff to illness and therefore have shortages,” he said. “But very importantly, is the effect they will have on the residents of the nursing home or long-term care facilities.”

Dr. Walsh recommends both residents and staff members get the vaccine. “It clearly works. There is no question when you look at early reports coming from CDC and institutions across the country when you start to immunize residents, as well as the staff, the rates of COVID go down quite dramatically and quite quickly,” he said. 

As for why more nursing home staff members aren’t getting vaccinated, doctors aren’t 100% sure. They say these workers are tested more often than others.

“It’s also important to remember that long-term care employees are tested twice a week, the general public is not tested at that rate, and long-term care employees wear PPE, masks, face shields, gloves, and so forth all day. So there is a difference there,” Dr. Mayo said.  He also said they are continuing to work with their team to accelerate the acceptance of the vaccine.

Dr. Walsh wants to remind people that it’s just as important for family and visitors of nursing home residents to be vaccinated. He recommends not visiting a nursing home if you haven’t gotten the shot.

Clifton Springs Nursing Home and DeMay Living Center are currently not taking any visitors due to investigations and testing.

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