It's been nearly seven months since Idahoans first gained access to the COVID-19 vaccine. As of June 30, slightly more than half (53.94%) of nursing home workers in Idaho have been fully vaccinated.
However, nearly 80 percent of residents in Idaho’s nursing homes are fully vaccinated.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS, began requiring nursing homes to submit vaccination data for residents and workers starting June 14.
Cascadia Healthcare has 18 nursing homes throughout the Gem State, and they say that several of their facilities exceed the state's nursing home worker's rate, and further, some of their facilities are above a 75% vaccination rate for employees.
“We are doing really well with the residents, staff has been tougher, we have seven of our 18 facilities in Idaho that are past the 75 percent mark, but we actually have one facility that is still down in the teens,” said Zendi Meharry, the Director of Clinical Operations at Cascadia Healthcare.
The American Health Care Association set a goal to have 75% of nursing home workers to be vaccinated by June 30, unfortunately not all of Cascadia’s facilities meet that goal.
“I think they have real fears and one of the things we hear in our nursing homes is that the FDA hasn't approved it, and so there's nothing that sort of gives them that level of confidence,” Meharry said. “As with the general population we have a handful of anti-vaxxers you know they just haven't believed in it for our children and some of them are, many of our healthcare workers are still young and still live with mom and dad getting through college and paying the bills, so it does impact what happens in Idaho is just not on the top of the list to be on that bold front.”
Meharry and Steve Laforte, the Director of Corporate Affairs for Cascadia Healthcare believe in education and providing incentives for staff to get vaccinated.
“We have everything set up to availability and any of the obstacles put in place, we just don't have butted,” said Meharry.
“Talk to people, educate people, and being role models, going out there getting the vaccine and continuing to be normal and having the facilities open up and seeing what the benefits could be,” said Laforte.
The reality that both Laforte and Meharry are coming to grips with is that, a handful of staff will not take that shot until FDA approval.
“I do think that when the FDA approval comes out, even though that shouldn't be a flip of a switch, I think that that will change a lot of people's attitudes it’s like okay, now that excuse goes away, it must be normal,” Laforte said.
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