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Vaccination requirement worries nursing homes

The vaccination rate for Florida nursing home staff is among the lowest in the nation at 47% and hiring is already difficult.
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:12 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - A survey of more than 300 Florida nursing homes found more than half are limiting new admissions because they don’t have the required level of staffing.

The staffing could get even worse if the federal government follows through with plans to require nursing home staff to be vaccinated.

The vaccination rate for Florida nursing home staff is among the lowest in the nation at 47% and hiring is already difficult.

“It’s challenging. There are more open positions than there are people to fill them,” said Kristen Knapp with the Florida Health Care Association.

Now the fear is that those who aren’t vaccinated will leave if a mandate is imposed.

“That’s the biggest concern, especially recently the administration, the Biden Administration announced that nursing home staff would be required to be vaccinated,” said Knapp.

At the heart of the problem is a mistrust of the federal government by many staff.

That mistrust dates back to the 1940′s experiments on poor Black residents of Tuskegee, Alabama.

To counter the resistance, the Heath Care Association is pushing vaccines.

The Agency for Heath Care Administration, which oversees long term care in Florida, is questioning why nursing homes were singled out and not other heath care providers.

“It’s going to interfere with those individuals to get the care they need. I don’t think it was a well thought out move, candidly,” said AHCA Secretary, Simone Marstiller.

A $1.8 million federal grant will help the homes work with colleges to develop a career path for students.

“You know, it really takes a compassionate person to work in long term care,” said Knapp.

The vaccine rule won’t publish in mid or late September, but if fears of staff fleeing materialize, finding a place to care for a loved one by the end of the year could be difficult.

The state is also working with the nursing homes to provide antibody treatments for those infected.

Copyright 2021 Capitol News Service. All rights reserved.