(Reuters) -President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that his administration will require employees in nursing homes to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of the facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid state health programs.
President Biden announced hours after the release of a study showing that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines for nursing homes and care facilities, where residents are often elderly and weak, has declined since the Delta variant became dominant in the United States.
Residents of nursing homes have been hit hard during the pandemic, with many facilities experiencing high deaths – especially early in the public health crisis. People living in nursing homes were among the first to be shot after COVID-1
However, some nursing homes have not required staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and some employees have opted not to get shots among vaccine skepticism among some Americans.
“I use the power of the federal government as a payer of health care costs to ensure that we reduce these risks for our most vulnerable retirees. These steps are about keeping people safe and out of the way, "said President Biden of the White House.
" If you visit, live or work in a nursing home, you should not be at higher risk of COVID from unvaccinated employees, President Biden.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older. Medicaid is a state federal health insurance program for the poor. Many nursing homes are dependent on payments from these programs.
President Biden said that more than 130,000 residents of American nursing homes have died of covid-19 and that the vaccination rate among nursing home employees is tracking the rest of the country. President Biden said that studies show that a highly vaccinated nursing home staff is associated with at least 30 percent fewer covid-19 cases among residents.
The spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, which according to CDC data accounted for more than 80% of new infections in the United States last month, has complicated efforts to combat the pandemic in the United States and globally.
In the new study, researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared weekly data from 3,862 nursing homes and long-term care homes. care facilities ranging from March 1 to May 9, before Delta became widespread, to data from 14,917 such facilities covering June 21 to August 9, when the variant was responsible for most new infections.
They found that the efficacy of two-dose vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech and Modern to prevent possible coronavirus infection — mild or severe — decreased from 74.7% to 53.1%. Efficacy estimates were similar for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, they said.
The study was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. -19 booster shots would be made publicly available to Americans starting September 20, with protection against initial vaccination declining over time.
The first groups to receive these boosters will include nursing homes and other elderly Americans, as well as people with weak immune systems, officials said.
In a second study published in the MMWR, New York State Department of Health officials found that by the end of July, 65% of New York adults had been completely vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer / BioNTech or Modern shots or one dose. of the Johnson & Johnson shot.
Between the beginning of May and the end of July, the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing new infections fell from 91.7% to 79.8%, he found. The vaccine effect to prevent hospitalization remained constant, from 91.9% to 95.3%, it found.
The effect of the two-dose vaccines against hospitalization lasts at least six months, according to a separate study by researchers in 18 US states who reviewed data from 3089 patients in hospitals, including 1,194 with COVID-19.