As skilled nursing facilities prepare to vaccinate employees under the federal vaccine mandate, they are also continuously educating staff in hopes of increasing vaccine uptake. Skilled Nursing News reports the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is expected to release additional guidance next month on the mandate.
This decision to continue vaccine education is also the result of the recent mandate which requires employers with more than 100 employees to either enforce vaccine uptake or regularly test employees on a weekly basis for COVID-19.
Additionally, certain nursing homes are now maintaining records of vaccination for all staff, residents and visitors. Some facilities are conducting on-site PCR tests for those who cannot provide proof of vaccination. Others have already mandated the vaccine for all employees. Regardless of the vaccine mandate, efforts to educate and answer all questions regarding the vaccine continue in this high-risk industry. One facility took the initiative to dedicate an employee to answer weekly calls for those who had questions or concerns about the vaccine. A specialist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) helped with these calls. Pharmacists were also made available to answer questions regarding side effects.
Some SNFs mandated the vaccine before the federal mandate came out and are relieved to hear the mandate has been expanded to cover all health care providers. This will help them retain staff who may have left otherwise to seek employment in companies that would not have mandated the vaccine.
In some areas, especially rural, operators are having difficulty convincing staff to get vaccinated. To combat this problem, they are using incentives such as trips and sweepstakes to help increase uptake. Some are still struggling as their staff rates have decreased. Some executives in the industry feel more should be done to convince society at large to get vaccinated instead of only targeting health care employees in these areas.