Two weeks after Pennsylvania’s Department of Health released data from a nursing home COVID-19 vaccine survey, the Pennsylvania Health Care Association held a press conference to address concerns with the state’s data and to provide feedback from the frontlines of the pandemic as to why some workers and residents haven’t been vaccinated. PHCA also issued a call for community groups and leaders to collaborate with long-term care providers on continued education and outreach.
“The recent headlines throughout Pennsylvania on COVID-19 vaccination rates in long-term care have not told the complete story,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the PHCA. “The story begins with the accuracy of the data and continues with informing the public on the details behind the numbers. That is the missing, critical piece we are sharing today.”
After discovering nearly 100 nursing homes listed in the DOH data report had sums of accepted and declined totals more than the total number of residents or staff, PHCA has called for collaboration with DOH to help improve future surveys and ensure family members, loved ones and friends are able to view accurate data. DOH is accepting corrections to the data and PHCA is encouraging all nursing home providers to review the survey results and provide corrections if needed.
A recent survey conducted by PHCA, which was released one day before the DOH survey results, identified that five percent of residents and staff in long-term care were still waiting for the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The survey also shows that vaccination rates among its members are 85 percent for nursing home residents, 97 percent for assisted living and personal care (AL/PC) residents and 63 percent for staff in nursing homes and AL/PC.
To help providers continue their education efforts and understand any obstacles, PHCA gathered feedback as to why long-term care staff have chosen not to receive the vaccine:
Staff waiting for the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine (feedback was provided before the pause in administering the vaccine)
Primary care physicians were advising workers to wait 90 days before getting the vaccine if they tested positive for COVID-19
Primary care physicians advised the vaccine was not necessary if a worker already had COVID-19
Rumors of infertility concerns as a result of the vaccine
Providers have shared that they are seeing many women in healthcare delayed family planning during the pandemic and are now looking to continue with those plans
Nationally, about 92 percent of the workforce in long-term care are female, and 65 percent are between the ages of 16-44
Currently pregnant and primary care physicians advised not to get the vaccine
Distrust in government, resulting in a lack of trust in the vaccine
Historical distrust in medicine, particularly within communities of color
Vaccine was too new and those workers or residents didn’t want to be the first to get it
“It’s clear vaccination education in our communities, including long-term care facilities, must continue,” said Shamberg. “We stand ready to work with community groups and leaders to ensure that all frontline workers and residents receive the information they need to make an informed decision.”