A recent surge in Covid-19 infections among nursing home residents has drawn attention to the slow rollout of booster shots in such facilities. According to a recent report by the New York Times, federal data shows that there are almost 4,000 new Covid-19 cases each week in nursing homes around the country, with experts suggesting that many such clusters are occurring in facilities that haven’t yet administered vaccine boosters to their residents.
A cluster at the Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in North Canaan, Connecticut, for example, infected a total of 89 people, almost all of whom were vaccinated. Of the 67 residents who came down with the disease, according to the Times, eight died. Efforts to administer vaccine boosters have reportedly been slower than last year’s efforts to vaccinate nursing home residents; no federal data on nursing home booster rollouts is available, but data on overall booster rollouts shows that “about 42 percent of Americans over 65 have received a booster shot,” per the Times report.
Certain vaccine boosters for certain vulnerable groups were initially approved in August, with approvals issued more widely in late September and October. Unfortunately, experts told the Times, by this point “many nursing home residents had already lost some of their initial protection against infection.” The federal government’s initial campaign to vaccinate nursing home residents in late 2020 depended on contracts with CVS and Walgreens that have since expired. Nursing homes turned to “pharmacies typically used to help them vaccinate residents against the flu” for their booster efforts. The White House told the Times that it’s “working with facilities that can’t find a pharmacy.”
Still, some stakeholders feel that the surge of Covid-19 throughout nursing home residents suggests these efforts are too slow. As the CEO of a New York nursing home operator told the Times, “In my mind, it is too late to be getting plans together if you want to save lives… You need to vaccinate residents and vaccinate staff and you need to get boosters in them. It’s a life or death matter.”
More information on the effort to administer vaccine boosters to nursing home residents amidst a new Covid-19 surge is available via the New York Times.
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