Earlier this week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that skilled nursing facilities will need to provide data on the COVID-19 vaccination uptake among staff and residents. The data should be reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Skilled Nursing News reports that collected data will help CMS understand which facilities require additional resources to effectively tackle the ongoing pandemic.
Since last year, nursing homes have been reporting results of COVID-19 testing as well as infection rates among staff and residents to NHSN. This new requirement for vaccination status reporting will not only apply to SNFs but also to intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF-IID).
In order “to help encourage vaccine uptake and access” CMS will have vaccination status data available on their Nursing Home Data website for each facility. If a facility fails to report their data, they will be liable to civil money penalties (CMPs). Staff vaccination rates have been reported to be much lower with a median of 37.5% compared to resident vaccination rates with a median of 77.8%. In February, LeadingAge and American Health Care Association announced that they wanted to reach a vaccination rate of 75% among nursing home staff by June.
Even though vaccinations in skilled nursing facilities began last year, it is reported that approximately 16% or 2,500 facilities did not partake in the partnership with pharmacy programs to administer vaccinations on site. However, the interim final rule requires nursing home operators to have a vaccination program available for both residents and staff.
CDC is “requiring that LTC facility staff (that is, individuals who work in the facility on a regular basis) be educated about the benefits and risks and potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.” Additionally, due to a high turnover in staff in skilled nursing facilities, CDC understands that these education and vaccination efforts will need to continue on an ongoing basis. The goal of continued education is to help staff, residents and families understand the vaccine and side effects better and to ease any concerns they may have regarding it. Facilities with reported lower vaccination rates will be provided additional resources and help.