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Louisiana last in nursing home worker vaccinations

According to a recent AARP survey
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Louisiana comes in last in the number of nursing care staff vaccinated against coronavirus in a recent survey.

Experts say the low rates can still impact even vaccinated residents.

The American Association for Retired Persons compiled government collected data through June putting Louisiana at the bottom of the list when it comes to vaccinations for people working in nursing homes. The survey said only 41% of nursing care workers are vaccinated in the state.

Health Educator Dr. Eric Griggs said, “Their residents. It’s not like they’re in and out there. They’re at the will of the people that are taking care of them.”

Updated data from the State of Louisiana through July pushes that number up to 45%.

In a statement, Mark Berger, the executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, said, “Louisiana’s COVID-19 vaccination rate for fully vaccinated nursing staff is five percentage points higher than the state’s general population.”

He said the organization continues to help educate staff at its member facilities and offer incentives such as giveaways to help boost that number.

Residents are highly vaccinated at 78%.

Berger noted in the Louisiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 nursing home report no deaths were reported in the last 60 days due to COVID.

Griggs said while results for vaccinated residents remain good, now things can change. He said, “Such a low vaccination rate for the staff can reduce the number of staff, which adds stress to the system again, reducing your infection control, having to spend more time with people.”

The study points out one of every four facilities still deals with staffing shortages. Doctors say the Delta Variant surge among the unvaccinated could exacerbate the issue.

“As this thing evolves we don’t know which way it’s going to go and there’s no rule that says you can only have one variant at a time. So the best thing that we want that we can do for the general public and protect ourselves and those around us is get vaccinated so we can try to stop it,” said Griggs.

Doctors say as the virus continues to change, it could pose a risk even to vaccinated residents.

Griggs said, “The thing is nothing is 100% and you do have breakthrough cases, and if we start to get these mutations that can breakthrough and people become infected it could be a real problem in the nursing home.”

The AARP survey compiled data from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services’ nursing home COVID-19 public file. The information is self-reported weekly to the Centers for Disease Control.

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