COVID vaccine rates are ‘stagnant’ in NJ nursing homes

As the Garden State eases restrictions and removes COVID-19 mandates, AARP New Jersey says coronavirus data suggests nursing homes should remain a focus of health and safety officials. other Garden State officials, so there are no unnecessary deaths.

According to the New Jersey Department of Health, more than 9,500 residents and staff at long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Nearly 6,000 of those people resided in nursing homes, or about 19% of New Jersey’s total COVID deaths, according to AARP.

“We just know that as new variants emerge, facilities can’t let preventable problems repeat themselves, and the key is to increase vaccinations and boosters and do it now,” said Katie York, Deputy Director of Advocacy for the New Jersey Chapter. from AARP.

Nursing homes proved particularly vulnerable at the start of the virus in New Jersey – that’s when many deaths occurred. Critics said that was because state policy required the return to nursing homes of infected patients discharged from hospitals, but the state said its directive required those residents to be housed separately.

Using data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard indicates that the rate of resident cases fell from 2.26 cases per 100 in the four-week period ending June 19 to two cases per 100 in the four-week period ending July 17. The personnel case rate increased slightly between these two periods.

In New Jersey, according to the dashboard, 79.3% of nursing home residents have received their full round of COVID-19 vaccinations and at least one booster dose. This is the 18th highest rate in the country.

All workers in health care facilities such as nursing homes must be up to date on their vaccinations, including a booster dose, in New Jersey. According to the scorecard, 82.1% of nursing home staff have met this threshold. This is the fifth highest rate among the states.

“We are seeing stagnation in vaccination,” York said.

Andy Aronson, president and CEO of the New Jersey Healthcare Association, agrees that all nursing home residents and staff should be “vaccinated and beefed up.” But, he said, the current impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes is not as severe as other groups might suggest, thanks to vaccination and targeted treatments.

Aronson acknowledged an increase in cases in nursing homes during the omicron threat and in the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

“The reality is that people in nursing homes are currently safer than people in communities,” Aronson said. “When there are COVID cases in the community, there will also be COVID cases in nursing homes. But what we have in nursing homes is constant monitoring of residents, residents are tested. Every time someone is positive they are treated and overall the residents are doing very, very well.”

With previous reports by Michael Symons

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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