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Can long-term care employers require staff members to be immunized?

It approves reimbursement of the time and expenses of staff members. But, she noted, “There is good evidence from behavioral economics that offers signals of money taking risks. These vaccines are really safe and effective, so we don’t want to consolidate people’s fears. “

Although Covid-19 cases and deaths are declining in long-term facilities, even those with high vaccination rates will need to remain on guard. New residents are continually arriving and employees are leaving; Nursing turnover in nursing homes is extremely high, an annual average of 128%, according to a new study. This means that after one year, all of the original nurses will be gone, along with 28% of their replacements.

Perhaps the thorniest issue is how to immunize the largest segment of direct care workers in the country, around 2.3 million people working in private homes.

“Things are pretty bad,” said Vicki Hoak, executive director of the Home Care Association of America, which represents 3,200 home care agencies. Although home workers have priority for vaccinations in all states, they struggle to get them, she said.

Like the rest of the direct care workforce, home care workers are predominantly women of color, many of whom are immigrants. At $ 12.12 an hour on average 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 helpers in nursing homes and assisted living centers. (Some, hired privately by individuals and families through the so-called gray market, do not work for agencies at all.)

“Reluctance to get vaccinated 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 representing nearly 400,000 caregivers in home in California.