Image of Atria employee being vaccinated for COVID-19

Three-quarters of all nursing home workers would be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by summertime if an initiative launched Thursday by the nation’s top two provider groups proves successful.

The American Health Care Association and LeadingAge said it is possible to get 75% of the nation’s approximately 1.5 million nursing home staffers vaccinated by June 30, using ongoing education, town halls and special webinars. The groups are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to meet the target. 

The partnership comes after an early February report by the CDC found just 37.5% of nursing home staff received at least one dose during the first month of the federal COVID-19 vaccine program. Residents, meanwhile, averaged more than double that.

Some operators and states have fared better. A report by the Healthcare Association of Hawaii showed that 78% of long-term care staff in the state are getting vaccinated. Northwest-best operator Marquis Companies had scored an 82% vaccination rate among staff as of mid-February, while Genesis HealthCare reported vaccine uptake among staff hit 63% by mid-February. 

“Achieving a high rate of staff vaccinations will be a game changer for nursing homes,” said Katie Smith Sloan, LeadingAge President and CEO. The organization plans to hold a national town hall next week with the Black Coalition Against COVID to address staff concerns about the vaccine. 

“It’s critical to acknowledge the reasons for vaccine hesitancy are real and varied, and staff concerns must be understood and thoughtfully addressed as we work toward this goal,” she said. 

AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson added the groups are looking forward to working with the Biden administration and CDC to make the goal reality. 

“The sooner we can get more of our staff vaccinated, the sooner we will be able to defeat this deadly virus,” he said.