The vaccine to combat COVID-19 is eagerly embraced by some, yet eyed with suspicion and rejected by others.
It is the refusal group, including a significant percentage who work in the nation’s nursing homes, that has confounded and alarmed health care officials who are at a loss as to how to sway them.
Nursing homes faced a shocking mortality rate during the pandemic. In the U.S., COVID-19 killed more than 133,000 residents and nearly 2,000 staff members between May 31, 2020 and this July 4, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reports. The true toll is thought to be even higher as data gathering lagged in the early months of the crisis, health experts say.
Working in a nursing home became one of the “most dangerous jobs” in America in 2020, according to an analysis of work-related deaths by Scientific American.
Yet seven months after the first vaccines became available to medical professionals, only 59% of staff at the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are fully or partially vaccinated — with eight states reporting an average rate of less than half, according to CMS data updated last week.