A little more than a third of nursing home workers have been getting COVID-19 vaccines when the shots are first offered, U.S. health officials said Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave a national accounting of a problem that's been reported anecdotally — many nursing home workers are not getting the shots.
The CDC looked at more than 11,000 nursing homes and skilled-nursing facilities that had at least one vaccination clinic between the middle of December and the middle of January. The researchers found that while 78% of residents got at least one shot, only 37.5% of staff members did.
Data previously showed that people who work in nursing homes and long-term care facilities get flu vaccines at lower rates than other health-care workers. Surveys suggest that long-term care workers are skeptical the shots work and don't think viruses spread easily from them to the people they care for.
The problem was discussed last week during a meeting of an expert panel that advises the CDC on vaccine policy. At the meeting, the CDC's Dr. Amanda Cohn said more staffers get vaccinated when a second or third clinic is held at a home.
"Continuing to capture those staff who did not accept vaccine early will be really important as we try eliminate outbreaks and protect both staff and residents in long-term care facilities," Cohn said.
The government tasked CVS and Walgreens with administering the shots to long-term care homes in nearly every state. Each vaccine requires two shots a few weeks apart, and CVS and Walgreens say they have wrapped up first-dose clinics in nursing homes. The chains plan three visits to each location.
The CDC released a second report Monday that offered a larger national look at who has been getting the vaccine.
The CDC study found that of the people who got at least one shot between mid-December and mid-January, 63% were women, and 55% were age 50 or older. It also found 60% were White, 11.5% Hispanic, 6% Asian, 5% Black, 2% American Indian/Alaska Native, and most of the others multiracial.
The report echoed previously released data from states.