COVID-19 has devastated nursing homes across the United States, with more than 186,000 residents and staff killed by the virus in the past year and a half.
Yet despite the immediate availability of the coronavirus vaccine, more than 15% of nursing home residents and more than 30% of staff across the country were still unvaccinated as of the end of last month.
Now, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have designed a tool to help families visualize and compare up-to-date vaccination rates in nursing homes.
“As we continue to work with our partners to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and keep nursing home residents safe, we want to give people a new tool to visualize this data to help them make decisions. enlightened, ”said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, CMS Administrator. said in Tuesday’s statement.
Families can find the tool at Medicare.gov. There they can search for nursing home providers in a specific area. Then they can either view immunization data for a specific facility or click “Compare” to view side-by-side reports of immunization rates across multiple nursing homes. They will need to scroll down an overview of the facilities in order to find the vaccination rates.
CMS already had this data on the site – Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes have been reporting the data since May – but the new tool makes it easier to access the information.
With a population particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, common sense would suggest that nursing homes would make vaccination of residents and staff mandatory, but that is not quite the case yet.
Last month, President Biden announced that his administration would require all nursing home staff to be vaccinated. He tasked CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to write a rule that should be revealed soon, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, a significant percentage of nursing home workers across the country are unvaccinated.
The AARP has been closely monitoring the issue on its Institute for Public Policy’s AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 dashboard and recently noted a disturbing trend in nursing homes. COVID-19 cases and deaths in August were “about six times higher than in the four weeks ending in mid-July,” the organization noted last week.
Residents of unvaccinated nursing homes now face the same risk as a year ago, said Nancy A. LeaMond, executive vice president and head of AARP’s advocacy and engagement in the communicated.
The AARP and CMS have urged nursing home staff and residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible, adding that the vaccine is safe and effective, as well as free.
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