Employees at the nation’s largest nursing home chain are being told to get the COVID vaccine or face being fired.
Employees at the nation’s largest nursing home operator have been informed they must undergo COVID-19 vaccinations or face termination, potentially setting a precedent for others in the business.
The mandate was given this week by Genesis Healthcare, which employs 70,000 people across roughly 400 nursing homes and senior communities. Most nursing homes have refrained from making immunizations mandatory for fear of losing additional staffers during a staffing shortfall that already exists.
With a rise in new COVID cases, mostly due to the highly contagious Delta form, and over 40% of nursing home personnel in the United States still unvaccinated, Genesis Healthcare’s decision proves that required vaccines are worth the risk of fewer staff.
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Some experts are advocating for mandated vaccinations in nursing facilities, citing the dangers that unvaccinated personnel pose to residents. Even immunized inhabitants are vulnerable since many are elderly and feeble, with compromised immune systems.
According to federal data, more than 1,250 nursing home residents in the United States were infected with COVID-19 in the week ending July 25, more than double the number from the week before, and 202 died.
“It’s so simple these days to say, ‘Well, Genesis is doing it.’ Now we’ll do it,’” said Brian Lee, the founder of Families for Better Care, a long-term care advocacy group. “This is going to be a huge domino to fall.”
A “snowball effect,” according to Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University professor of health law. He called it “unconscionable” to oppose vaccination mandates at this time.
With Massachusetts and Denver announcing mandated vaccinations at nursing homes this week, some local governments are taking the issue out of the hands of the industry.
The question has become more pressing as the highly contagious Delta variety drives up new COVID-19 cases in the United States to around 90,000 per day on average—the highest number since mid-February—and sends hospitalizations to record highs in states like Florida and Louisiana.
Despite the disease’s devastating toll in nursing homes, many of the country’s 15,000 such facilities have refused to require required vaccinations for fear of losing a huge number of employees. Almost a fifth of nursing homes already lack nurses or nurses’ aides. This is a condensed version of the information.