New federal guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations in healthcare settings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not differentiate between nursing home staff members and residents, according to a top expert within the agency.

The recommendations apply equally to both groups, explained Kara Jacobs-Slifka, MD, MPH, with the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the CDC. Jacobs-Slifka led a Q&A session with providers during a LeadingAge conference call on Thursday.

She added that the agency is also trying to “figure out and would appreciate suggestions from [providers] regarding how to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in various settings without invading the privacy of people.”

“In a setting where you don’t know the vaccination status of individuals, approach the situation as if people are not vaccinated,” she said. 

The same applies for children under the age of 12, who don’t have the option of being vaccinated, according to Jacobs-Slifka. She stated the guidance still allows children to join in visitation but since they are unvaccinated, the recommendation is that masks be worn during visits. 

“We recommend continued use of masks and social distance also for other visitors who are unvaccinated or whose status is unknown. Indoor settings are more problematic than outdoor settings. It will be helpful to take a look at the CDC infographics about what to do in various settings,” she encouraged. 

Jacobs-Slifka added that the agency officials plan to continue updating the guidance as they learn more details about post-vaccination.