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Monday , December 6 2021

Many nursing home staff decline shots

NEW YORK, Feb 2, (AP): A little more than a third of nursing home workers have been getting COVID-19 vaccines when the shots are first offered, US health officials said Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave a national accounting of a problem that’s been reported anecdotally – many nursing home workers are not getting the shots.

The CDC looked at more than 11,000 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities that had at least one vaccination clinic between the middle of December and the middle of January. The researchers found that while 78% of residents got at least one shot, only 37.5% of staff members did. Data previously showed that people who work in nursing homes and longterm care facilities get fl u vaccines at lower rates than other health-care workers. Surveys suggest that longterm care workers are skeptical the shots work and don’t think viruses spread easily from them to the people they care for.

Policy
The problem was discussed last week during a meeting of an expert panel that advises the CDC on vaccine policy. At the meeting, the CDC’s Dr. Amanda Cohn said more staffers get vaccinated when a second or third clinic is held at a home. “Continuing to capture those staff who did not accept vaccine early will be really important as we try eliminate outbreaks and protect both staff and residents in long-term care facilities,” Cohn said. The government tasked CVS and Walgreens with administering the shots to long-term care homes in nearly every state. Each vaccine requires two shots a few weeks apart, and CVS and Walgreens say they have wrapped up first-dose clinics in nursing homes.

The chains plan three visits to each location. The CDC released a second report Monday that offered a larger national look at who has been getting the vaccine. The CDC study found that of the people who got at least one shot between mid-December and mid-January, 63% were women, and 55% were age 50 or older. It also found 60% were White, 11.5% Hispanic, 6% Asian, 5% Black, 2% American Indian/Alaska Native, and most of the others multiracial.

The report echoed previously released data from states. The deadliest month yet of the coronavirus outbreak in the US drew to a close with certain signs of progress: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are plummeting, while vaccinations are picking up speed. The question is whether the nation can stay ahead of the fast-spreading mutations of the virus.

The US death toll has climbed past 440,000, with over 95,000 lives lost in January alone. Deaths are running at about 3,150 per day on average, down slightly, by about 200, from their peak in mid-January. But as the calendar turned to February on Monday, the number of Americans in the hospital with COVID-19 fell below 100,000 for the first time in two months. New cases of infection are averaging about 148,000 day, down from almost a quarter-million in mid-January. And cases are trending downward in all 50 states.

“While the recent decline in cases and hospital admissions are encouraging, they are counterbalanced by the stark reality that in January we recorded the highest number of COVID- 19 deaths in any month since the pandemic began,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths do not move in perfect lockstep up or down with the infection curve.

They are a lagging indicator, because it can take a few weeks for people to get sick and die from COVID- 19. After a slow start, the vaccination drive that began in mid-December is picking up the pace. More than 31.1 million doses have been administered in the US, according to the CDC. That is up from 16.5 million on the day President Joe Biden took office, Jan. 20. The number of shots dispensed in the week and a half since Biden’s inauguration has been running at close to 1.5 million per day on average, well over the president’s oft-stated goal of 1 million per day. More than 5.6 million Americans have received the required two doses, the CDC said

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