The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, has expanded its #GetVaccinated campaign, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to encourage long term care facility staff to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
The #GetVaccinated campaign, funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the CDC, now offers a dedicated website – getvaccinated.us – to help educate and encourage caregivers and staff at long term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living communities, to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The website includes credible information from renowned medical professionals, public health officials, and scientists to help answer common questions about the vaccines among staff members and other individuals. It also encourages vaccinated staff to share their personal experience and reasons for getting vaccinated on social media.
The importance of long term care staff and residents choosing to get the vaccine cannot be overstated, and already, we are seeing some promising results. A recent AHCA/NCAL report showed an 82 percent decline in the number of new COVID cases in nursing homes since late December and now with the lowest number of weekly cases since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) started tracking back in May 2020.
AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said the data from the report was welcome news and extremely hopeful in suggesting that vaccines are working. But he also indicated that nursing homes and long term care facilities aren’t out of the woods yet.
“The rapid decline of nursing home cases is incredibly encouraging and a major morale boost for frontline caregivers who have been working tirelessly for a year to protect our residents,” said Parkinson. “We hope this will help persuade those staff members who preferred to wait and see how the vaccines went that they are safe and effective, and that by each of us doing our part, we can save lives. I’ve long said there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a long road ahead. The more of us that receive the vaccine, the quicker we can end the pandemic and be together again.”
“Long term care staff members are no different than many frontline workers in other health care settings or the majority of the public who have important questions about the vaccines,” said Dr. David Gifford, MD, MPH and Chief Medical Officer for AHCA/NCAL. “There is also a lot of misinformation circulating on social media that we must all continue to combat. We hope this expanded #GetVaccinated effort will answer the many questions, address concerns, and help long term care staff feel confident in their choice to get vaccinated.”
This effort follows AHCA/NCAL’s announcement of the nationwide goal to get 75 percent of all nursing home staff vaccinated by June 30, 2021. In addition to the dedicated website, AHCA/NCAL will seek to partner with other advocacy and professional organizations as part of the #GetVaccinated campaign, to help expand its reach, share materials, and educate more long term care staff across the country on the vaccines’ safety and importance.