COVID-19 Vaccines Helping Long Term Care Facilities Rebound From The Pandemic

COVID-19; Research and Data

The COVID-19 vaccines represent a turning point for long term care facilities in their fight against the pandemic. New cases and deaths have declined dramatically, and facilities have begun safely reuniting residents with their loved ones and resuming social activities. As the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee prepares to hold a hearing this week on building vaccine confidence, it’s important to remember the positive impact the vaccines are making on long term residents and staff.  

A study published this month in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society by the Center for Health Policy and Evaluation in Long-Term Care (CHPE), the research division of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), confirms that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are effective in reducing new cases and deaths among residents and staff in long term care. 

CHPE researchers found that these nursing homes experienced reduced spread of COVID-19 among both residents and staff as well as a decline in deaths among residents after their first vaccination clinics, especially five to six weeks after the clinics. Previous studies have confirmed effectiveness among the general population, but the CHPE study is the first to confirm effectiveness within nursing homes.

Vaccine confidence is also improving thanks to AHCA/NCAL’s national #GetVaccinated campaign. The campaign, launched with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has provided educational resources to help individuals make informed decisions about the vaccines, leading to an increase in willingness among long term care staff to get vaccinated. AHCA remains focused on reaching the industry’s goal to get 75 percent of all nursing home staff vaccinated by June 30, 2021. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will require all long term care facilities to report their vaccination rates. AHCA/NCAL, which has supported publicly reporting long term care vaccinations since the vaccines were first approved, said the data will help determine where additional support is needed. AHCA/NCAL has called on federal and state leaders to continue prioritizing long term care residents and staff for the vaccines, as facilities accept new residents and hire new staff members on an ongoing basis. 

There are many reasons to be optimistic, but the pandemic is not over. Those who are not vaccinated should do so as soon as they are able, and we must continue to educate the public about the benefits of the vaccine. In addition, lawmakers and public health officials must continue to put long term care first, so we can protect our seniors and health care heroes on the frontlines.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit​