Reinforcement rates have also stagnated, but at lower rates. As of mid-July, about 75% of people across the country had received at least one booster dose, according to the analysis. This acceptance rate is virtually the same as the previous monthly reporting period, an increase of just a fraction of a percentage point.
This leaves some 300,000 residents without up-to-date vaccinations, even as booster shots are now available. recommended for most nursing homes. In April, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that second booster doses are “especially important” for people over 65 and those over 50 with chronic health problems, both groups widely represented in the nursing home population.
Federal data on second booster shots in nursing homes are not currently available.
Among nursing home workers, just over half had received at least one booster dose by mid-July, about the same as mid-June. That leaves roughly a million nursing home employees without a booster dosealthough most of the CDC recommended it at the end of 2021.
Booster rates vary widely between states, according to the analysis. Reinforcement rates for residents ranged from less than 60% in Arizona and Florida to 92% in Vermont. Reinforcement rates among workers ranged from a low of 30% in Mississippi to a high of 96% in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts and other states with high rates of booster shots among staff, including California and Connecticut, are requiring nursing home staff to receive the additional vaccine. Meanwhile, the federal government only requires an initial series of COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff at Medicare- and Medicaid-funded health care facilities, which includes the vast majority of the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes.
AARP exhorted to nursing homes to require booster shots for residents and staff in January, saying booster shots “are necessary to maintain protection.” Critics of the vaccination orders said those requirements would cause greater staffing shortages in nursing homes, predicting that hesitant workers would leave their jobs rather than get vaccinated.
Staffing shortages are a long-standing problem in long-term care in the United States. More than a quarter of nursing homes across the country reported a shortage of nurses or aides in the four weeks ending in mid-July, according to the analysis. In Minnesota, New Hampshire and Washington, more than 60% of centers reported shortages.