Can long-term care employers require that staff members be vaccinated?


She supports the reimbursement of time and expenses to staff members. But, he noted: “There is good evidence from behavioral economics that offers money signals for risk taking. These vaccines are really safe and effective, so we don’t want to solidify people’s fears. “

Although Covid-19 cases and deaths are declining in facilities in the long term, even those with high vaccination rates will need to remain on guard. New residents continually arrive and employees leave; Turnover among nursing home staff is extraordinarily high, an annual average of 128 percent, according to a new study. That means that after a year, all the original members of the nursing staff will be gone, as will 28 percent of their replacements.

Probably the thorniest problem is vaccinating the largest segment of direct care workers in the country, the roughly 2.3 million people who work in private homes.

“Everything is going pretty bad,” said Vicki Hoak, executive director of the American Homecare Association, which represents 3,200 homecare agencies. Although home care workers have priority for vaccines in every state, they are struggling to get them, he said.

Like the rest of the direct care workforce, home care workers are primarily women of color, many of them immigrants. At an average of $ 12.12 per hour in 2019, they are the lowest paid group, according to research and advocacy group PHI. Almost half depend on some form of public assistance, such as Medicaid or food programs.

Without a central workplace, they will be more difficult to reach, educate and vaccinate than assistants in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. (Some, hired privately by individuals and families through the so-called gray market, do not work for agencies at all.)

“Vaccine hesitancy is absolutely a factor, but even more so is the lack of easily accessible opportunities to get vaccinated,” said April Verrett, president of SEIU Local 2015, the union that represents nearly 400,000 home care aides in California.

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