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Florida ranks 2nd-worst in nation for nursing homes staff vaccinations

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 18:35:11-04

A new report finds Florida nursing homes are now among the worst in the nation when it comes to vaccination rates for COVID-19.

“I got a notice of my facility yesterday that we have a staff member who was positive, and visits are shut down. We cannot continue to play this ping pong game,” said Mary Daniel, Founder of Caregivers for Compromise.

Mary Daniel’s husband is a resident at a long-term care facility. As the Founder of Caregivers for Compromise, Daniel has been advocating for families since the lockdown.

She's concerned low COVID-19 vaccination rates among Florida's nursing home workers is leaving residents highly vulnerable to becoming infected.

“They care about the elderly; they care about the disabled and if that is truly the case then to work in this environment in an inpatient facility, where there are residents, then you have to be vaccinated,” Daniel said.

A new report by the AARP finds Florida nursing homes are the second worst in the nation for vaccinating staff. Data from the federal government shows 43.8% of nursing home staff is fully vaccinated. The national average is 56%.

“Staffing numbers are not there, so facilities aren’t mandating it because if they do then their numbers drop down even more. It’s really, it’s quite the problem,” said Daniel.

Nursing home resident vaccination rates are also lower than the national average with only 68% fully vaccinated in Florida.

The lag in vaccinations prompted Brian Lee, Executive Director of Families for Better Care to write a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, to restart statewide reporting on COVID-19 cases and deaths among residents and staff.

“The evolving variants you’re going to see different numbers and more people getting infected, especially we don’t have the vaccines for so many people, that’s what really triggered our letter to the governor,” Lee said.

Lee said failing to collect and publish this data is harmful to families.

“If the administration has that data, please be transparent about it and let the families have it, so we know what’s happening in these facilities. They have a right to know so they can make good healthcare decisions for their loved ones who are living there,” he said.

Meanwhile in an effort to get more staff vaccinated the Florida Health Care Association said it’s been educating workers about the vaccine. In addition, one on one meetings and group sessions with doctors and even religious leaders have helped some facilities in the state get hesitant staff on board, but experts said there’s still room for improvement.