The COVID pandemic brought some of the most common safety issues in nursing homes to the forefront of the public consciousness. As residents of skilled care facilities fell ill at increasing rates, more people became aware of problems such as inadequate staffing and funding. However, promising news of the start of nursing home vaccine distribution programs offers a ray of hope for both residents and staff.
How Do Vaccines Improve Safety?
Vaccines are the safest method to achieve herd immunity from communicable diseases. Once achieved, herd immunity can greatly reduce the number of COVID outbreaks — and deaths — in nursing homes. That will, in turn, improve conditions for staff, administrators, and insurance providers who have been under tremendous strain during the pandemic. For that to happen, however, the vast majority of staff and residents must consent to receive vaccines.
When Will Residents and Staff Receive COVID Vaccines?
States are responsible for determining who receives the precious first doses of coronavirus vaccine as they are distributed throughout the country. In most, residents and staff at skilled care facilities are among the first eligible tiers. Both groups are at high risk of contracting COVID, and elderly residents, many of whom have preexisting medical conditions, are at increased risk of serious illness and death for the disease.
Vaccines are an important tool for maintaining a safe and healthy environment in nursing and skilled care facilities. Comprehensive vaccination programs will help lower rates in infection among residents and staff, improving working and living conditions as a result.