Booster Uptake Among Residents at 67% in Nursing Homes while Staff Lag Behind at 27%

Booster Uptake Among Residents at 67% in Nursing Homes while Staff Lag Behind at 27%

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently held a stakeholder call to discuss recent developments on the COVID-19 pandemic. Skilled Nursing News reports both agencies shared concerns regarding low booster uptake rates among nursing home staff and the surge in infections due to the omicron variant.

The national average for booster shots is about 35%. However, the nursing home staff average is much lower at about 27.6%. The average for uptake among residents is much better at about 62%. Dr. Janell Routh, co-lead of the CDC vaccine task force, pressed the need for boosters and said “we now know that the booster dose is very effective in raising immunity against omicron.”

About 93 to 97% of all new cases are now being caused by the omicron variant as per the CDC. This is about 490,000 cases every day across the nation. Dr. Lauri Hicks, medical epidemiologist with the CDC Respiratory Diseases Branch, stated “we are seeing that the omicron variant is about two to three times more transmissible than the last major variant – delta. This aligns with our current experience in this rapid rise in cases that we’re seeing.”

Despite the drastic increase in infections, hospitalization rates are about 54% lower in countries that had the omicron surge before the United States. However, there has been a 63% increase in hospital admissions while death rates increased by 5%.

Government agencies clarified the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is not changing with the arrival of booster shots. The CDC still defines a fully vaccinated individual as someone who has received two doses of the mRNA vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The agencies continued to express the need to exercise all precautions and follow appropriate safety protocol especially during visitations. If outbreaks occur, nursing homes should continue to coordinate with local and state health departments to help manage the situation.