Nursing home staff vaccine requirement offers residents another layer of protection, Gundersen geriatrician says | Local News

Per CMN, in the U.S. as of early August 667,659 COVID cases have been confirmed among nursing home residents, resulting in 133,736 deaths. Among facility staff, 602,330 have been infected and 2,004 have died.

“Nursing home residents make up a very tiny portion of the population in the United States but they have made up a big proportion of the deaths,” says Cogbill, who observed the trend locally as well. “This (mandate) is a move to protect those who need protection the most.”

Karlie Hurlbert, director of nursing at Hillview Health Care, says staff are largely on board with the vaccine requirement, and Cogbill notes the area boasts higher inoculation rates than the national average. Among La Crosse County nursing home employees, the vaccination rate is around 80%, and several facilities are above 90%

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“(The rate) is an incredible thing and tells such a great story about La Crosse County and the nursing home staffs’ dedication to the health and safety of the (residents),” Cogbill says.

There remains a portion of employees who have been unwilling to be vaccinated, and once further details of the CMS requirement are released facilities will need to address the issue. Cogbill believes the reasons for abstaining from inoculation are multifactorial, including concerns about the speed at which the vaccine was developed and approved, a mistrust of science, spread of misinformation and skepticism regarding safety and efficacy. The reasons, she notes, are similar to those given for hesitancy or refusal to mask or distance.