NewsVaccine in Arizona


Nursing homes in Arizona are struggling to give booster shots to residents, staff

nursing home shortage
Posted at 4:27 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 21:31:58-04

Despite being among the first eligible for COVID-19 booster shots, many nursing homes are struggling to boost residents and staff, experts say.

Nationally, about 72% of residents are boosted in each nursing home, according to data from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Booster shots have been shown to be more protective against omicron and other COVID-19 variants. And nursing home residents continue to be among the most vulnerable people in terms of potential for severe illness and death -- nearly 151,000 people in nursing homes have died since the beginning of the pandemic, CMS data shows.

While significantly higher than the 44% of Americans who have received a booster, experts say levels in nursing homes are lower than they'd like to see. Ideally, they should match the rate of vaccination -- currently 87% of residents fully vaccinated per facility.

When it comes to booster uptake among nursing home staff members, the numbers are even lower than residents.

In Arizona, AARP’s public dashboard shows that less than 38% of nursing home residents are vaccinated and boosted.

“We know boosters save lives, we know they help prevent infections and severe illness,” said Dana Marie Kennedy, AARP Arizona State Director, which serves more than 900,000 members age 50 and older in Arizona. “Even though the worst of the omicron surge is hopefully behind us, the pandemic isn’t over. The delivery of booster doses to nursing home residents and staff must remain a high priority as these residents are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its variants.”

AARP says that the number of facilities reporting a shortage of staffing for nurses or aides is up to 34.1%, according to the latest data they have.

“Adequate staffing levels are a key factor in providing high quality care and safe environments for our loved ones,” said Kennedy. “That’s why AARP is fighting for critical legislation that addresses staffing inadequacies and other chronic issues that were all too common in many of the state’s nursing homes long before the pandemic hit.”