Only 37 percent of long-term care staff vaccinated through federal program 

Only 37 percent of staff in long-term care facilities have been vaccinated against COVID-19 through a federal partnership with local pharmacies, according to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raising further concerns about low vaccination rates among those who work with people at high risk for serious illness or death from the virus.

The CDC analyzed data from nearly 11,500 long-term care facilities that had at least one vaccination clinic between Dec. 18 and Jan. 17, the first month of the program in which CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies provide on-site vaccinations to staff and residents.

In that time period, 78 percent of residents and 37.5 percent of staff were vaccinated through the program, amounting to 1 million people, according to the CDC analysis released Monday.

The low vaccination rates among staff are concerning because of their high risk for exposure to COVID-19 through their jobs, the authors wrote.

Staff also work with a population that has been hardest hit by the pandemic. Deaths in long-term care facilities make up about one quarter of all COVID-19 deaths.

Why it matters: Polls have shown health care workers, particularly those working in nursing homes, are not immune to vaccine hesitancy. The authors of the report stressed that ‘focused health communication messages’ regarding the safety and efficacy of authorized COVID-vaccines.