Nearly two-thirds of nursing home staff in Florida refuse coronavirus vaccine in first round

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About two-thirds of Florida nursing home workers chose not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus during their facilities’ first round of vaccines, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

As of Tuesday, all nursing homes in Florida have offered the vaccine to their residents and staff, according to Samantha Bequer, a spokesperson for the agency. Almost 68% of residents and almost 36% of staff have chosen to receive the vaccine, Bequer said. The state does not require vaccinations, which are administered by Walgreens and CVS pharmacies as part of a federal program.

So far, nearly 80% of residents and more than 34% of staff at assisted living centers in Florida have received the vaccines when they first visit their facilities, Bequer said. However, not all of these facilities have yet received gunfire.

The state had said it would administer the vaccines to all assisted living centers by the end of January, but CVS was unable to meet its vaccine appointments on January 23 and after, has Bequer said. As of Tuesday, 84% of assisted living centers reported receiving undergraduate vaccinations, she said.

“To deal with this critical situation, the (Emergency Management Division) will organize visits to any assisted living facility that has not been visited by CVS or Walgreens during the first week of February,” a- she writes.

The International Union of Service Employees is advocating for the distribution of vaccines to residents and long-term care workers, but does not want vaccination to be mandatory, wrote Bob Gibson, vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, who represents workers in Florida. The organization shares information about the vaccine with workers.

“Because of racial disparities and historical injustices, which have created skepticism about the health care system, as well as misinformation about the vaccine being disseminated online, there have been difficulties in increasing the immunization rate of people. long-term care workers, ”Gibson wrote.

The high rate of resident vaccinations is encouraging, said Jeff Johnson, State Director of AARP, adding, “We are concerned that a majority of staff have not opted for the vaccine.”

“I think what is needed is for those on the ground to really listen to the concerns of those who have chosen not to be vaccinated,” he said. The next steps will be to answer questions and provide advice to those who are reluctant to get vaccinated, he suggested.

About 70% of staff at Gulf Shore Care Center, a retirement home in Pinellas Park, refused the vaccine during the facility’s first round, administrator Louise Merrick said. But many had changed their minds in the second round after seeing that the volunteers in the first round had no side effects, she said.

Once the process is complete, Merrick expects around 10% of his staff to have refused the vaccine. She can consider incentives, like cash, to convince “latecomers” to get it, she said.

Tuesday’s count of nursing home staff vaccinated could be an underestimate, said Dr. Marissa Levine, professor of public health and family medicine at the University of South Florida. The completion rate does not take into account staff members who may have obtained the vaccine elsewhere.

“But I suspect it’s not too far, due to some hesitation issues,” Levine said. “Until we see a mandate, we probably won’t have a level that would be truly protective.”

Some staff may be hesitant because of the rapid development of the vaccine, Levine said. They may not understand the process or the guarantees, she said, or may have received false information on social media.

“So it’s very possible that some early thoughts are the ones that took hold,” she says. “And without an intentional effort to explore people’s concerns, they can hang on to them.”

Others may wait until the first set of shots to watch for side effects or problems, she said.

“We need to get a better idea of ​​where places have been successful in getting their staff vaccinated so that we understand what they have done that could have been different,” Levine said, “and use that as a best practice and spread it out. .

Vaccinating long-term care staff remains an important safeguard to protect residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities from the coronavirus, Levine said.

“We know the people they work with directly are at the greatest risk of death,” she said. “I think it is their responsibility to be able to take all possible protective measures, including vaccination.”

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