Nursing home worker vaccine requirement met with mixed reaction

This week, the Biden administration announced that nursing home workers employed at facilities receiving Medicaid or Medicare funding will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The ruling will have a wide impact, as many nursing homes across America rely upon government funding. As of now, approximately 40 percent of nursing home workers remain unvaccinated.

The decision, while not entirely unexpected, is drawing a mixed reaction. To give you an overview, here are some of the

diverse perspectives:

  • Some nursing home administrators welcome the ruling, because they want all of their workers vaccinated and feel this might offer the incentive for those who have been reluctant to do so.
  • Other nursing home owners fear that they will lose a critical amount of their workforce, as those who are adamant about not getting the vaccine will leave for fields that do not require vaccination.
  • Still others feel the ruling is incomplete and doesn’t go far enough. They want to see all healthcare workers be included in the vaccine mandate, instead of nursing home workers being singled out.
  • Some nursing home administrators are calling for a more robust educational campaign from the federal government to answer the questions that their vaccine hesitant workers have as part of the vaccine requirement ruling.

My opinion is that our most vulnerable population deserves to be treated by those willing to provide the safest care possible. With the highly infectious delta covid variant currently impacting the country, I don’t believe it is safe for workers or nursing home residents to remain unvaccinated. For families paying several thousand dollars per month for their loved one’s care, asking staffers to take precautions to maintain workplace safety is not unreasonable. With companies like Disney mandating their employees be vaccinated, it shouldn’t be controversial that healthcare workers would be expected to do the same. But we are living in extraordinary times, and there have been several high-profile protests at healthcare facilities around the country, with workers pushing back against mandatory covid vaccinations.

I do fully support individuals having autonomy over their bodies. If a person chooses to decline the covid vaccine, there are plenty of jobs available that do not require the vaccine and do not involve direct contact with vulnerable populations. The concerns about a nursing home staffing shortage are legitimate, but staffing was an issue well before the pandemic, due to the low wages and little to limited benefits offered by the industry. I support a better educational campaign about covid and the vaccine so nursing home workers can make a personal choice based upon science, not misinformation shared on social media.

2 Comments

Filed under Awareness & Activism

2 responses to “Nursing home worker vaccine requirement met with mixed reaction

  1. You make a good point. It is a difficult and often confusing time. As a volunteer chaplain I chose to be vaccinated several months ago just before they began opening the homes up here in Florida. It was wonderful being able to serve my little flocks in various facilities in our area after 14 months of lockdown. Now even with the vaccine I cannot enter two of the three facilities I once visited and they are keeping the residents in their rooms. Some of this is understandable but some seems to be based more on corporate fear of even the tiniest chance of infection (And financial liability). Our residents have not committed any crime and yet they are being treated like inmates in a high security prison. And so I pray and trust and write newsletters and send videos and long for the day when this is all a memory. Thank you Joy for shedding light on a world that few know much about.

    • Thank you for this perspective and for the good work you do. So true about the corporate liability issue and I share your concern about the consequences of further lockdowns at nursing homes.

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