Impressive 88% and 85% vaccination rates among nursing home and assisted living staffers aren’t enough for the New Jersey-based operator Jewish Family Home. 

The provider announced Tuesday that it is now mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all of its workers in a push to reach the 100% level. 

The move means the operator’s nursing home, Jewish Home at Rockleigh in New Jersey, will become the state’s first to make COVID vaccines mandatory for staff, according to the company. It comes at a time when New Jersey long-term care facilities overall are averaging a 60% vaccination rate among staff, according to state data. 

Jewish Family Home President and CEO Carol Silver Elliott called the decision “another significant step towards ensuring the health of our elders, our staff and our community.” 

“Although our staff vaccination rates are gratifyingly high, 85% at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh and 88% at Jewish Home Assisted Living, we believe that 100% vaccination is vital. Our staff have been notified today that there is a July 1 deadline for receiving at least the first dose of their vaccine, with a second dose required as well,” said Silver Elliott, who also is LeadingAge’s Board chair, in a statement. 

She added the decision was not made lightly.  

“Our medical director and associate medical director have been involved in these discussions and we have also surveyed our colleagues around the country,” Silver Elliott explained. “While not all organizations that serve older adults have made this decision, we believe that it is the right one, perhaps the only one, for the Jewish Home Family.”

More providers issue vaccine mandates

Presbyterian Senior Living on Tuesday also announced that it will require all staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. 

The Dillsburg, PA-based provider, which offers skilled nursing, assisted and independent living, says staff must be vaccinated later than Aug. 31 to continue employment with the company. Newly hired staff, as of June 8, will have 60 days from their first day of employment to  complete the requirement. 

“We must listen to the voices of others who are clearly calling for our staff and resident population to be vaccinated so they may once again hold the hand of those they love,” Jim Bernardo, president and CEO, said in a statement. 

Dan Davis, the company’s COO, said it’s a struggle to open its communities for visitation and they quickly close them after they get a positive staff case. 

“The emotional impact this has had on residents and their families has been devastating,” he explained. 

“Community and corporate leadership have encouraged and counseled staff on the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.  As a provider of senior living and care services, we have an obligation to residents and their families.  By requiring the vaccine, we are fulfilling the needs of those who count on us the most,” Davis added.