In response to the dramatic growth in the number of COVID-19 cases in the past month, President Joe Biden’s administration has decided to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for nursing home workers.
This is expected to come into force in September, according to the New York Times.
According to a White House briefing document, being vaccinated against COVID-19 will be “a condition of participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs”, and therefore apply to nearly 15,000 nursing home facilities employing 1.6 million workers.
If the nursing homes refuse to comply, they will face losing their Medicare and Medicaid funding, while staff who refuse to be vaccinated could face losing their jobs.
The document continued: “Since the spread of the Delta variant, there has been a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, especially in those states that have low rates of vaccinated workers.
“Both CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data confirm a strong relationship between the increase of COVID-19 cases among nursing home residents and the rate of vaccination among nursing home workers.”
This comes on the back of Biden calling on swathes of federal workers to either share their vaccine status or face extensive testing to attend their offices, as well as many big US corporations implementing vaccine mandates and passports.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) certainly thinks so.
Its president and CEO Mark Parkinson commented: “We appreciate the Administration’s efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccinations in long term care.
“Unfortunately, this action does not go far enough. The government should not single out one provider group for mandatory vaccinations. Vaccination mandates for health care personnel should be applied to all health care settings.
“Without this, nursing homes face a disastrous workforce challenge.
“Focusing only on nursing homes will cause vaccine hesitant workers to flee to other health care providers and leave many centers without adequate staff to care for residents.
“It will make an already difficult workforce shortage even worse.
“The net effect of this action will be the opposite of its intent and will affect the ability to provide quality care to our residents.”
ABC news reported yesterday the severity of the current labor crisis in nursing homes.
While US job openings have hit a record 9.2 million, nursing homes and other long-term health care facilities are reportedly losing staff to other industries.
AHCA/NCAL chief medial officer Dr David Gifford told ABC: “Nursing homes are in constant competition for staff.
“Many providers struggle to recruit and retain caregivers who can often find less demanding jobs in other settings, such as hospitals and industries that can offer better pay.”
“This has been persistent, and the most pressing challenge confronting long-term care, which the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated.
“The ultimate impact is on our nation’s seniors, who may face limited access to long-term care.”