Providers must first establish trust with employees by communicating openly and being transparent with organization policies about vaccination to best boost worker COVID-19 vaccine rates.  

That’s a top recommendation in a new research-based guide released Wednesday aimed at increasing COVID vaccine uptake among nursing home workers, and specifically certified nursing assistants. 

The publication was produced for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network.

The guide features evidence-based tools and resources to help providers implement infection prevention and safety practices to better protect residents and staff from COVID-19. 

“To fully protect nursing home residents and staff from COVID-19, the best thing we can do is continue to increase vaccination rates, especially among CNAs who are the backbone of the nursing home workforce,” said David Meyers, MD, acting director of AHRQ, in a statement. “That means understanding where they’re coming from and meeting them where they are with messages that address their concerns and practical interventions that help them get vaccinated.”

Recommendations also included removing any barriers that make it tough for staff members to access vaccines, and hosting their own drives and clinics for staff. 

Have CNAs’ questions answered by trusted local experts, the researchers also stressed.

“One-on-one conversations between managers and staff who have already gotten vaccinated and those who are still deciding are one of the most effective tools we have,” report authors stated.

Other suggestions include: 

  • Offering meaningful incentives, like paid time off, for vaccinated staff; 
  • Appealing to CNAs’ expertise and the role they play as caregivers for residents and families; and
  • Addressing fears at the individual level 

The full report is available here.