As of March 27, an estimated 91% of nursing home staff nationwide have received the required Covid-19 doses, 56% have received a booster dose and only 6% have obtained a religious exemption in response to the mandate. vaccination of health care workers which went into effect earlier this year.
That’s according to the Office of Inspector General who recently conducted their own audit of nursing home staff immunization compliance under the mandatory requirement of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
From March 28 to April 22, the agency reviewed documentation to determine whether staff members received required vaccine doses, received a booster dose, or requested and were granted a waiver to receive the vaccine.
The figures show a slight increase on figures published on the CMS website, last updated on June 12, which show that 87% of staff have been vaccinated and 53% of vaccinated staff have received the booster . Data on the number of workers who received a religious exemption has not been released.
The OIG conducted the audit to provide an independent analysis of the Covid-19 vaccination status of care home staff members which it hopes will provide CMS and other decision-makers with insight into compliance with the vaccination of nursing homes at a specific time.
As of March 27, nursing home residents accounted for more than one million confirmed Covid-19 cases and approximately 152,000 Covid-19-related deaths in the United States, while staff accounted for approximately 1.1 million. confirmed cases and about 2,400 deaths.
The agency used a sample of 100 of the country’s 15,244 nursing homes to get the data, using a list of staff members subject to vaccination requirements and randomly selected 10 from each facility. For the 1,000 staff members sampled, their vaccination status was reviewed and tabulated.
Of the 1,000 staff sampled, 884 had received the required vaccine doses while 78 had been granted an exemption based on sincere religious belief, practice or observance.
Staff who have received the required vaccine doses, a booster dose and staff who have been granted a religious exemption tend to vary by location.
In fact, in 10 separate regions of the country, the percentage of nursing home staff who received the required vaccine ranged from 70% to 99%, the region which includes Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, l Indiana and Ohio showing the lowest rates and the Northeast showing the highest rates.
The region that included California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii was also shown to have high rates at 97%.
Similarly, compliance with booster injections varied between regions with the Pacific Northwest region which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska at only 30% while the California-Nevada-Arizona region -Hawaii reached 84%.
In eight of the 10 regions, the percentage of nursing home staff with a religious exemption was below 10%, with the region including Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri having the highest percentage at 24%.
While the OIG typically includes recommendations in its reports, the audit merely served as a snapshot of the Covid-19 vaccination status of nursing home staff nationwide.