On the heels of several states announcing vaccine requirements, President Biden and CMS followed suit with an announcement on August 18 requiring that all U.S. nursing home staff be vaccinated. HealthPRO Heritage, along with many other healthcare associations, is advocating for equal treatment regarding vaccine requirements across care settings, rather than isolating to nursing home employees. The specific regulatory implementation guidelines are not yet fully developed and aspects of the mandate may change over the next several weeks.
This decision comes as the result of a rapid increase of COVID-19 infections across the country, due to the Delta variant. The spread has been responsible for a dramatic increase of cases in nursing home residents, from the lowest level of infections of 319 cases on June 27 to 2,696 cases on August 8. Many of the recent outbreaks have occurred in communities located in areas of the United States with the lowest staff vaccination rates.
We understand that some of your staff may have hesitations about the vaccine. To help provide some clarity on COVID-19 vaccines, our Medical Director, Dr. James Avery (MD, CMD, FAAHPM, FCCP, FACP), shares the following facts:
- Twenty Years of Studies: Although it seems like the COVID-19 vaccines were produced in record time, the fact is these vaccines are based on mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine technology, which has been studied for more than two decades and applied in the COVID-19 vaccines.
- mRNA Technology: The use of this technology means that the actual virus itself is NOT used in the vaccine, but rather the mRNA elicits an immune response to specific virus characteristics.
- Completion of Phase 3 Trials: Each of the vaccines has met or exceeded phase 3 trials, which requires at least 30,000 people for testing.
- 4X Less Likely: Those who are fully vaccinated are 4X less likely to be infected.
- Mild Side Effects: Data from all trials + 190 million people vaccinated in the U.S. found that less than 10% of people experienced any side effects. Most common was fatigue that went away in 24-48 hours.
- Mild Symptoms: Similar to the flu vaccine and contracting the flu, those people who received the vaccine and still tested positive for COVID-19, mostly have mild symptoms, seemingly lessening the impact of the virus.
- Family Planning: The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines do not have a live virus, therefore, the vaccine is unable to enter the nucleus to alter any DNA in recipients, nor fetuses. In addition, according to the CDC, there is no evidence to suggest there could be an increased risk of infertility.
HealthPRO Heritage continues to put our faith and trust in science. We know that the decision to be vaccinated does not come lightly to some, but we hope that by sharing the above information, you can address any lingering concerns your staff may have as to the safety and efficacy of this vaccine.