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New AARP Analysis Shows Nursing Home Vaccination Rates in Minnesota Still Well Short of Benchmark

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Cases of COVID decreased only slightly among Minnesotan nursing home residents and staff over the four weeks ending July 18, according to the latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard.

Any number of cases is concerning given the rise of new variants, the gaps in vaccinations among those in nursing homes, and the disproportionate numbers of deaths due to COVID-19 and high risk in nursing homes throughout the pandemic. More than 4,660 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Minnesota have died from COVID-19 – representing around 61% of deaths, even though less than 1% of the population lives in these facilities nationally.

While staff vaccination rates had increased several percentage points in the past month, they remain low compared to goals. Only 24.8% of nursing homes had at least 75% of staff vaccinated, which is the benchmark goal the industry has set for vaccinations in facilities. Here in Minnesota, 90.4% of residents have been fully vaccinated.

“The high COVID death rates of residents and staff in nursing homes has been a national disgrace. As the new variants are emerging, facilities cannot let preventable problems be repeated. The key is to increase vaccinations, and do it now,” said Mary Jo George, Associate State Director of Advocacy at AARP Minnesota. “AARP is calling on nursing homes to require vaccinations for both staff and residents.  The low levels of staff vaccinations, in particular, create an unacceptable level of risk, since the disease spreads so easily in these environments. And facilities must ensure all residents are vaccinated, including providing vaccines to newly admitted residents. Facilities must be open and transparent with how they are progressing toward the vital goal of vaccination for all staff and residents.”

The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.

The full Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at http://www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.

AARP is providing information and resources about COVID-19 to help older Minnesotans and has developed key questions for families to ask if a loved one is in a nursing home. For more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.

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