New Study Shows Effectiveness of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine in Nursing Home Settings, Reinforcing Need to Prioritize Residents and Staff for Ongoing Allocations


A new study published 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), finds that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are effective in reducing new cases and deaths among residents and staff in long term care. While previous studies have confirmed effectiveness among the general population, the CHPE study is the first to confirm effectiveness within nursing homes.

The study was conducted among 2,501 nursing homes that held a vaccine clinic from the first 17 states to initiate the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long‐Term Care Program. 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. 

Marsida Domi, senior research analyst at CHPE and lead author of the study said, “This data is extremely encouraging and shows that the vaccines are working,” and added that the results have positive implications for the future quality of life in nursing homes as the pandemic continues. 

The results of the study confirm continued calls for vaccine prioritization for long term care residents and staff for the foreseeable future. AHCA/NCAL has asked federal and state leaders to ensure that long term care residents and staff remain first in line and have rapid access to the vaccines. Nursing homes and assisted living communities regularly accept new residents and hire new staff members – many of whom may not yet be vaccinated. 

With the findings of the study, ensuring as many residents and staff as possible get vaccinated has never been more important. AHCA/NCAL continues to promote vaccine education and uptake through their national #GetVaccinated campaign. The campaign, launched with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has helped improve vaccine confidence, leading to an increase in willingness among long term care staff to get vaccinated. AHCA is hopeful they will meet the industry’s nationwide goal to get 75 percent of all nursing home staff vaccinated by June 30, 2021. 

In addition to support from federal and state governments, members of the public must also do their part to contain the virus, as outbreaks within the general population are a direct threat to long term care residents and staff. This means getting vaccinated as soon as they are able and continuing to practice CDC guidelines when it comes to social distancing and wearing masks. 

It has been a long road, but we cannot stop fighting until the pandemic is fully over. Lawmakers and public health officials must continue to make long term care their top priority for the vaccines and other resources, so we can protect our seniors and health care heroes on the frontlines.

ABOUT AHCA/NCAL
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 www.ahcancal.org.