Aging Services Leader Joins National Call for Long-term Care Providers to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines For All Staff and Care Professionals

PRESS RELEASE | July 26, 2021 | by Lisa Sanders

“As COVID-19 variants emerge and proliferate, we can start saving more lives today by ensuring staff are fully vaccinated.”

Lisa Sanders,  lsanders@leadingage.org, 202-508-9407

July 26, 2021 Washington, DC -- As new variants of COVID-19 are on the rise and vaccination rates are stalling around the country, LeadingAge joined leading healthcare organizations calling for requiring vaccines for all staff in long-term care and other healthcare settings.

LeadingAge represents more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers across the United States--including nursing homes, providers of care at home and in the community, adult day services; affordable housing, assisted living, life plan and independent living communities, hospice, and providers of federal PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) services.

“Care providers have been working around the clock to steadily increase the number of residents and staff who are vaccinated, and COVID deaths have plummeted, but it’s time to do more. As COVID-19 variants emerge and proliferate, we can start saving more lives today by ensuring staff are fully vaccinated,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge.

In a statement released to its members and the public today, the association encouraged members to make vaccines a condition of employment for all healthcare workers, including employees, contract staff and others, with appropriate exemptions for those with medical reasons or as specified by federal or state law. The statement emphasized that the vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in preventing infection, reducing the spread of the virus and the chance of serious illness or death.

“Throughout the pandemic, long-term care providers have demonstrated their dedication, commitment and bravery in the face of deadly challenges never faced before,” added Sloan. “By mandating these highly effective vaccines, they will be doing everything possible to deliver safe, quality care to the older adults and others they serve.”

COVID-19 vaccinations are the most effective tool to protect from the virus, but nursing home staff vaccination rates vary widely across the country, with a national rate of 61.51%, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The most recent CMS statistics show that as of July 11, 81.7% of residents and 67% of staff at LeadingAge member communities were fully vaccinated.

LeadingAge members who have already established vaccine mandates report that, with very few exceptions, staff comply and get the vaccines that protect themselves, their families, their coworkers, and the people they serve.

The separate joint statement signed by LeadingAge and over 50 other health associations notes that a growing number of experts and organizations are calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, and that many healthcare settings already require vaccinations against threats like influenza, hepatitis B, and pertussi.

The other signers include American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Pharmacist Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Public Health Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, Council of Medical Specialty Societies, Infectious Diseases Society of America, National Hispanic Medical Association, Society of Hospital Medicine, and others.

Other organizations who have made similar calls include the American Hospital Association, and The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (AMDA).

 
LeadingAge

We represent more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers and other mission-minded organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we use applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building to make America a better place to grow old. Our membership, which now includes the providers of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, encompasses the continuum of services for people as they age, including those with disabilities. We bring together the most inventive minds in the field to lead and innovate solutions that support older adults wherever they call home. For more information visit leadingage.org.