Most nursing home residents have not received an omicron booster

Fewer than 50% of nursing home residents, one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations to serious illness from Covid-19, have received an omicron booster before the expected wave of infection this winter.

The Biden administration has made increasing booster uptake among nursing home residents a central part of its strategy to avoid a major spike in hospitalizations and deaths this winter.

“We are working very closely with America’s nursing home leadership and have asked them to do more,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the leader of the White House’s Covid task force, told reporters during a press conference on Thursday.

“And we’re targeting governorates where nursing home vaccination rates are low to provide personalized support,” Jha said.

The administration is working with nursing homes to make sure vaccines and treatments are available on site, Jha said. The federal government is also expanding the pool of staff who can administer vaccines in nursing homes.

The American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, asked the Biden administration in November to drop certain restrictions that prevented facility staff from giving vaccinations to residents. The White House said Thursday that nursing home staff can now administer the boosters.

The elderly, especially nursing home residents, are the age group most vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid.

Nearly 161,000 nursing home residents have died from Covid since the pandemic began, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Nursing home residents account for about 15% of the more than 1 million people who have died from the virus in the US since 2020.

While 86% of nursing home residents have completed their primary vaccination series, only 47% of residents have received all recommended boosters, according to CMS data. Only 22% of the staff at the residence are up to date with their vaccinations.

Jha has said that most of the people who die from Covid right now are elderly people who are not up to date on their vaccines and who do not receive treatments such as the antiviral Paxlovid when they have a breakthrough infection.

Covid cases in nursing homes rose 65% from 11,400 in the week ending November. From 13 to 18,900 during the week ending December. 4, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases fell 11% the following week to 16,700, the data showed.

Covid deaths in nursing homes rose 25% from 256 in the week ending November. 20 to 321 for the week ending December. 11. This is dramatically lower than the pandemic peak of more than 6,000 nursing home deaths in the week of December. 20, 2020.

Jha has repeatedly said that virtually all deaths from Covid are now preventable through vaccination and treatment.

“There are still too many older Americans who haven’t upgraded their immunity and haven’t been protected,” Jha said.

In addition to vaccines, anyone who tests positive for Covid should find out if they are eligible for treatments such as the antiviral Paxlovid, Jha said.

“It’s very clear to me that anyone 60 and over should be treated,” he said. “There should be a good reason not to treat someone and there’s rarely a good reason, meaning most people should be treated right now.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *