AARP Wisconsin: Sounds alarm on vaccination rates for Wisconsin nursing homes staff

Contact: Jim Flaherty, Communications Director
Office 608/ 286-6308 – Cell 608/ 698-0928, [email protected]

MADISON, WISCONSIN – The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-
19 Dashboard
incorporates new data on vaccination rates among staff and
residents, and finds that just one in five facilities nationwide meets the threshold
of having at least 75% of staff fully vaccinated. Wisconsin falls well short of that
threshold with just 14.7% of facilities with 75% or more of staff fully vaccinated as
of June 20.

Nationally, slightly more than half of health care workers in nursing homes were
fully vaccinated (56%) and about 78% of residents were fully vaccinated as of the
week ending June 20. Vaccination rates vary widely from state to state, ranging
from less than half of staff (41%) in Louisiana to a high of 84% in Hawaii.
Wisconsin is slightly better than the national average on fully vaccinated staff
(57.5%) and slightly better than the national average on fully vaccinated nursing
home residents at 82.2%.

AARP’s analysis also found that 37.7% of Wisconsin nursing homes reported a
shortage of direct care workers, which is a problem that has persisted through
the pandemic and much higher than the national average of 23.5%.

“Nationally, more than 184,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and other
long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19,” said AARP Wisconsin State
Director Sam Wilson. “In Wisconsin, 43% of our nearly 7,500 COVID-19 deaths
have been in long-term care facilities. We quite simply have to remain vigilant
and focused on protecting our most vulnerable and ensure our frontline health
care providers have the support and supplies they need to stay safe.

“With cases once again rising across the country and considering the highly
contagious Delta variant, every effort must be made to protect vulnerable nursing
home residents. AARP encourages residents and staff in long-term care facilities
to get a free COVID vaccine to protect yourself, your family and your community,”
Wilson said.

AARP recently sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
urging the agency not to become complacent regarding the COVID-19 pandemic,
“especially for vulnerable populations like LTC (long-term care) facility residents,”
and strongly recommending “that the federal government commit to working with
states, long-term care facilities, and other entities, as needed, to ensure that
those facilities can access and administer vaccines on a continuing basis for the
foreseeable future.”

The letter applauds CMS for publishing data on nursing home vaccinations and
calls on the agency to offer that data in a more user-friendly format. AARP has
repeatedly urged transparency and public reporting about the impact of COVID
on residents and staff in nursing facilities.

The  AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard  analyzes federally reported data
in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Using this data, the AARP
Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at
Miami University in Ohio, created the dashboard to provide snapshots of the
virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and
staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and
state levels in a timely manner.

The full dashboard is available at . For
more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s
advocacy on this issue, visit