Declining COVID Cases In Long Term Care Facilities Suggest Vaccines May Help Prevent Spread Of The Virus

The COVID-19 vaccines are making a difference in long term care facilities. COVID cases have been on a downward trajectory in recent weeks, and many providers are optimistic that they may have turned the corner in their fight against the pandemic.

As of February 12:

  • Over four million residents and staff have received their first dose.
  • More than 1.4 million have received their second dose. 
  • More than 85 percent of nursing homes have completed their second round of vaccination clinics and 75 percent of assisted living communities and other senior living facilities have completed their first. More than 10 percent of nursing homes have already completed their third round of clinics. 
As residents and staff continue to get vaccinated, a new analysis from the Center for Health Policy Evaluation (CHPE), the research division of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), suggests that the vaccines may be accelerating the decline and thereby, preventing spread.

CHPE examined data from 797 nursing homes that conducted their first vaccination clinic between December 18, 2020 and December 27, 2020 and compared it to nursing homes in the same county that had not yet conducted a clinic (1,709 facilities). The analysis shows:

  • Vaccinated nursing homes experienced a 48 percent decline in new resident cases three weeks after the first clinic, compared to a 21 percent decline among non-vaccinated nursing homes located in the same county.
  • Similarly, new staff cases declined by 33 percent in vaccinated nursing homes compared to 18 percent in non-vaccinated facilities.
The CHPE analysis is the first to look at the relationship between the COVID-19 vaccines and spread in long term care. AHCA/NCAL sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week, urging them to evaluate the vaccines’ effectiveness among the long term care population in both preventing spread and reducing morbidity and mortality. Further research is critical, especially as providers begin to complete their third vaccine clinics and look toward reopening their facilities to reunite residents with their loved ones.

The more people get vaccinated, the better the outcomes will be. AHCA/NCAL launched its nationwide #GetVaccinated campaign, to encourage residents, families and staff to consent to the vaccines and provide them with educational materials to help inform their decision.

For nearly a year, long term care facilities have been at the epicenter of the pandemic. Now, residents and staff have a reason for hope. There is still a long road ahead, but if we continue to make vulnerable seniors and heroic caregivers a priority for the vaccines and essential resources, we can continue to save lives. 

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​.​