Under-vaccination for healthcare workers is raising alarm bells with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), especially for long-term care workers. A new report finds nursing home staff woefully under-vaccinated for both influenza and COVID-19, potentially threatening their own health and that of the frail elderly residents under their care.
Looking at 2023 data collected at nearly 14,000 nursing homes nationwide, researchers found that fewer than one in every four (22.9%) health care workers had received up-to-date COVID vaccines, while less than half (47.1%) had gotten the latest flu shot.
“There is a need to promote evidence-based strategies to improve vaccination coverage among health care professionals” working at these facilities, said researchers led by Dr Jeneita Bell with the CDC.
Data were collected on over 2 million health care workers at nearly 14,000 nursing homes nationwide, as well as 8.9 million staffers at over 4,000 hospitals across America.
Analysis revealed 81% of hospital workers had gotten the latest flu shot, but only 17.2% had the latest COVID vaccine.
In comparison, nursing home staff vaccination rates were lower, and varied widely depending on where in the country the facility was located. For example, almost 41% of workers in nursing homes on the West Coast were up-to-date on their COVID shots, compared to just 17.5% of those in the South.
Similar disparities were seen when it came to vaccination against the flu. In certain southern states — Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana and Missouri — less than 10% of staff at acute care hospitals were up-to-date on their COVID shots in 2023, the report found.
All of these numbers reflect an ongoing trend: A general decline in vaccinations since the end of the pandemic, the researchers said.
The findings were published in the November 10 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. To request the full article, click here.
The exact reasons weren’t clear, but “factors associated with low vaccination coverage might have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and compounded by emerging concerns such as vaccine fatigue,” Bell’s group said.