Nursing homes to be required to vaccinate staff against COVID-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — President Joe Biden has announced his administration will require nursing home staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. If facilities don’t comply, they will lose Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Mary Daniel’s husband, Steve, has been living at Rosecastle at Deerwood for two years. While Rosecastle is an assisted living facility and not a nursing home, Daniel still believes health care staff working with the elderly should be vaccinated.

STORY: Glynn County installs mobile morgue to brace for surge in COVID-19 deaths

”I want the staff that professes to care about him and feels like this type of work is their life’s mission — I want them to care about protecting them too. And if they don’t, if they have very personal feelings about that, then my recommendation is that you have to just find somewhere else to do this kind of work, that an inpatient setting is not the right place,” she said.

During the lockdown, Daniel took a job washing dishes at the facility so that she could spend time with her husband.

”COVID kills, but we also know that isolation kills too; we can’t go back,” she said. “It is time that we stop punishing the people inside these facilities for what’s going on on the outside.”

According to a new AARP report, 40% of Florida’s nursing homes reported new COVID-19 cases among staff in July, making it the highest in the nation. AARP reported about 18% of Florida’s nursing homes are facing staffing shortages.

Meanwhile, AARP reported vaccination rates among nursing home staff is only 45%, ranking Florida the second-worst in the nation.

STORY: ‘I think it’s fantastic, truly’: DCPS, DOH kick off ‘Duval Vax of Kindness’ vaccine clinics

Daniel understands some are hesitant about the vaccine. But overall, she thinks a mandate is a good idea.

”I feel we’re better protected being vaccinated than not vaccinated,” she said.

Doug Adkins is the vice president of two DaySpring facilities in Hilliard. He made sure all his staff got vaccinated back in January.

”We understand that was a hard decision to make. We felt like it was the right decision,” Adkins said. “Having fully vaccinated staffs and residents is a big, big win because this is how we’ve been able to avoid infections at our facilities during this surge.”

Biden’s push to mandate nursing home staff to be vaccinated could become a reality as soon as a month from now.