At nursing homes, fears of a viral rebound as workers decline COVID-19 vaccine and new residents struggle to get shots

Facilities are “a petri dish where we could have a resurgence”

R&I NV — It was a battle many thought we had already won. Residents of nursing homes, the people most at risk of dying in the COVID-19 pandemic, were among the first to get vaccinated last winter, leading to a dramatic decline in new infections.

But now, just two months after the ambitious nursing home vaccination program wrapped up, there are worrisome signs that the danger remains and may even be growing again. The percentage of nursing home residents who are vaccinated has declined since March, amid complaints from senior care leaders of difficulty getting shots for newly admitted residents.

Perhaps more concerning, a sizable share of Massachusetts nursing home staff continue to go unvaccinated for COVID-19, despite aggressive initiatives to convince the hesitant. Just 59 percent of nursing home staff are fully vaccinated, according to state data. Now, nursing home leaders who witnessed the explosion of COVID infections and deaths a year ago are wary that their own nurses, aides, and other employees could risk the health of their residents.


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