Nurse applying vaccine on patient's arm wearing face mask

Connecticut nursing homes could be nearing herd immunity levels based on latest COVID-19 case levels, state officials reported over the weekend.

Connecticut’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe reported that a “vast majority” of residents have received both coronavirus vaccine shots and 60% of staff have gotten their first dose. That trend has also been followed by a decrease in cases.

“In the last three weeks, the number of weekly cases in nursing homes has declined by 66%,” Geballe said over the weekend. “You get your first vaccination, you start to get some protection 10 to 14 days afterwards.”

Local media reports noted that for herd immunity to be achieved then around 75% of the population must be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Geballe indicated that some facilities throughout the state may have met that threshold thanks to widespread administration of vaccines and continued infection control measures, the CT Post reported.

Matthew Barrett, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, explained that currently 90% of residents and 60% of staff are now vaccinated. Though the news is encouraging, it’s too soon to know how close they are to the mark.

“Even as we are seeing the potential plateau and downward trend of cases, we need several weeks of more data, including an evaluation mortality rates, which lag behind the cases before it would be responsible to conclude we have turned the corner,” Barrett told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Monday. 

“Still, there is an optimism in the recent data. Moreover, test positivity rates and community spread are also trending downward in Connecticut. These numbers need to be tamped down even further to win the day. In the meantime, Connecticut nursing homes are advised to stay vigilant on core infection control practices as we look to the other side of this epic pandemic,” he added. 

Mag Morelli, president of LeadingAge Connecticut, said providers are now “hoping now with the vaccinations successfully going through, with community prevalence coming down and with others in the community being vaccinated that we’re hoping that we see the light at the end of the tunnel.” 

“We were hit early last year and then post-Halloween through the holidays we had another resurgence throughout the entire state,” Morelli explained. 

She added that providers would “really like to get back to a place where residents and families can be interacting again and visiting again in a much more regular manner.”

“Right now, we really want to make sure that residents can be able to see their families on a more regular basis,” Morelli said. 

“It’s really been difficult for everyone — for residents, for families, for staff. To be able to see this vaccination as a shot of hope has just really made everyone feel hopeful,” she added.