Workers in Alabama nursing homes will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19, after President Joe Biden announced Wednesday such workers across the country would have to get vaccinated or those nursing homes could lose federal funding.
“Our association is working to learn more about President Biden’s plan to require nursing home employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19,” said Alabama Nursing Home Association president and CEO Brandon Farmer in a statement Wednesday. “We expect the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will issue details soon. Once we have those details, we will help our members understand and implement the requirement.”
Farmer said the association has supported COVID-19 vaccinations for residents and staff from the beginning, and that Alabama has moved ahead of neighboring states and several others in the percentage of residents and staff who are vaccinated.
“The percentages have increased each week the federal government has released new data and we are moving in the right direction,” Farmer said. “The ANHA and its member nursing homes are working to fully defeat COVID-19 and continue to follow guidance and protocols from the state and federal governments.”
In Alabama, 81.1 percent of nursing home residents are vaccinated, according to data sent to APR from the association, which puts Alabama head of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. Among nursing home staff, 51.6 percent are vaccinated, ahead of Florida, Georgia Mississippi and Tennessee.
“More than 130,000 residents in nursing homes have, sadly, over the period of this virus, passed away. At the same time, vaccination rates among nursing home staff significantly trail the rest of the country,” the president said, according to CBS News. “The studies show that a highly vaccinated nursing home staff is associated with at least 30% less COVID-19 cases among long-term care residents. With this announcement, I’m using the power of the federal government, as a payer of health care costs, to ensure we reduce those risks to our most vulnerable seniors.”
Nationally, 60 percent of nursing home staff are vaccinated against COVID-19, and 2 percent of residents are vaccinated, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The requirement for those workers to get vaccinated won’t be immediate, however. The Department of Health and Human Services will have to draft regulations before vaccinations could be a requirement to receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, USA Today reported.