Troubling Statistics

Angie Szumlinski Health

The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program partners with pharmacy providers to manage the COVID-19 vaccination process, reducing the workload for SNF administrator and jurisdictional health departments by coordinating scheduling, vaccine cold chain management, patient counseling, and vaccine administration. In the first month of the program, more than one million SNF residents and staff members in CMS-certified SNFs received on-site COVID-19 vaccination, with moderately high coverage among residents. Considering the high COVID-19-associated morbidity and mortality in SNFs and, particularly, the risk for severe disease among SNF residents, vaccination of this population is a public health priority. However, the lower percentage of staff members vaccinated raises concern about low coverage among a population at high risk for occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

Barriers to SNF staff member vaccination need to be overcome with continued development and implementation of focused communication and outreach strategies to improve vaccination coverage. Communication resources developed to increase vaccine confidence among LTCF-staff members can be employed for public health outreach, and strategies to address structural barriers, such as scheduling around shift work or provision of paid medical leave for possible post-vaccination side effects, should be encouraged. Further studies should explore differential vaccination coverage by characteristics, including geographic location, sociodemographic factors, and facility size, as well as characterize barriers to vaccination of persons working in OTCFs; qualitative assessment of attitudes and beliefs might inform additional communication strategies to improve vaccine confidence and increase vaccination among staff members.

Let’s get this done! If encouraging your staff hasn’t worked, educate them, allow them an opportunity to talk to the experts, give them the CDC website, explain the risk of severe illness and death, and whatever it takes, get everyone vaccinated.

Stay the course, stay well, mask up, get vaccinated, and stay tuned!