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Last week, the Biden Administration announced a 6-week campaign to improve COVID-19 booster uptake rates. The campaign will focus on reaching seniors and other communities hardest hit by COVID-19, including a focus on nursing homes.
As part of this campaign, CMS will focus on the requirement for nursing homes to educate and offer the COVID-19 vaccine, including subsequent boosters, outlined in QSO-21-19-NH. State survey agencies will be verifying that this requirement is being complied with, particularly in facilities with low publicly reported vaccination rates, including booster rates. Facilities out of compliance will be faced with enforcement actions.
AHCA/NCAL recommends that facilities verify their vaccination rates, including booster rates, which can be found on the CMS COVID-19 data website. If the posted rates are low, facilities should prepare for outreach from the state survey agencies to ensure compliance with QSO-21-19-NH . If the posted rates are not accurate, facilities should verify the accuracy of their NHSN reporting and address where needed.
While the overall up-to-date (including bivalent booster) rate in nursing homes is 43% (substantially higher than the general population), there is wide variation in booster rates, with over a quarter of nursing homes having up-to-date rates over 72.4% and a quarter of nursing homes with rates less than 7.3%.
COVID-19 boosters are proven to be effective in protecting individuals from serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 even when they have a breakthrough infection. Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines is particularly important for nursing home residents due to their underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.
CMS also issued QSO-23-03-ALL encouraging facilities to focus on the timely use of COVID-19 therapeutics. These treatments can prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and save the lives of high-risk individuals who would otherwise be at risk of severe complications even when vaccinated.
You can read AHCA/NCAL and LeadingAge’s joint press statement on the announcement here and our all-hands-on-deck plan we shared with the Administration to encourage a collaborative approach to increase vaccination rates.
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