Many nursing homes across the country must now figure out how to get all their employees vaccinated or risk losing federal funding as early as September. President Biden made the announcement Wednesday to try to increase the immunization rate among healthcare workers in long-term care facilities.
Florida has nearly 700 licensed nursing homes in the state. About 46% of its employees are vaccinated, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicade Services. This is the second lowest vaccination rate in the country for employees working in retirement homes. The national average is 60%.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis believes the tenure will actually hurt the long-term care industry, causing further shortages in an industry that is already hurting staff.
“I don’t know how this is going to work,” DeSantis said. “There is going to be a concern among these institutions about retaining all the staff. It’s a major hammer to knock down.
Jamie Mongiovi of the Florida AARP says you can’t point to a vaccine warrant as the sole cause of the staff shortage.
“Unfortunately, the staffing levels in Florida long-term care are an ongoing problem,” Mongiovi said. “And this was present long before the start of the pandemic. “
But the question remains, what will facilities with low immunization rates do once the mandate comes into effect?
NSpire Healthcare in Lauderhill has only vaccinated 12% of its employees, according to CMS records. When NBC 6 News reached out to them, an administrator said they were encouraging employees to get vaccinated. And they’re currently working on a plan for the mandate to take effect.
Another South Florida facility called Aventura Rehab and Nursing Center has an employee vaccination rate of 14%, according to CMS records. When NBC 6 New contacted them, an unidentified person said, “We don’t want to discuss this with the news. And hung up the phone.
Hundreds of thousands of nursing home workers go unvaccinated, federal data shows, though nursing home facilities were hardest hit by the first COVID-19 outbreak and their workers were among the first in the country to be eligible for vaccines.
In the past three weeks alone, Biden has forced millions of federal officials to certify their immunization status or face onerous new requirements, with even stricter requirements for federal officials in frontline health care positions. , and his administration has moved towards compulsory vaccines for the military as from next month.
Biden also celebrated companies that have mandated vaccines for their own workforce and encouraged others to follow, and highlighted local vaccine mandates as a condition for daily activities, like eating indoors.
If you or a family member is considering going to a long-term facility, it is recommended that you ask about their vaccination rates and the types of precautions they take.