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AARP Texas Calls For Nursing Homes To Require Booster Shots For Residents and Staff

AUSTIN, Texas AARP Texas Director Tina Tran issued the following statement regarding the danger of the COVID-19 Omicron variant to nursing homes residents, calling for immediate action to get residents and staff vaccinated and boosted:

“As the highly transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads like wildfire across the country, AARP is calling on nursing homes to require COVID-19 booster shots for residents and staff.

“The COVID-19 virus has demonstrated repeatedly that it is very dynamic. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant over the past weeks poses a significant risk for residents and staff of nursing homes who have not been boosted. For their sake, we must act now and make the delivery of booster shots to nursing home residents and staff our highest priority.

“AARP urges nursing homes to immediately prioritize boosters for both residents and staff. While still providing protection against severe illness and death, being fully vaccinated without a booster is no longer protecting nursing home residents from contracting COVID-19; the data are clear that a booster is necessary to remain protected. The rate of new infections in nursing home residents who have received a booster dose is more than 90 percent lower than the rate among residents who are not fully vaccinated, or who are vaccinated without an additional booster dose, according to CDC data for the week ending Jan. 9, 2022.”

Black woman sitting in wheelchair in  hospital

Alarming new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the two weeks ending January 16 shows more than 120,000 new staff COVID-19 cases in nursing homes nationwide, including 4,983 here in Texas. Nursing home resident cases are also on the rise, with at least 79,000 new cases nationwide, including 4,126 here in Texas during the same timeframe.

While nursing home resident deaths nationwide from COVID-19 remain far below last winter’s horrific toll, they have more than doubled in the last two weeks.  Here in Texas, the CDC reports 93 new COVID-related nursing home resident deaths, and one new staff death for the week of Jan. 16.

According to the latest data from AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard, as of mid-December 42 percent of nursing home residents in Texas were fully vaccinated with a booster dose, while only 19 percent of direct care staff had received a booster. These numbers reflect a slight increase from mid-November.

It’s important to note: AARP’s analysis differs from the CDC by providing the percentage of all residents and staff who have received COVID-19 vaccines and boosters as opposed to only the percentage of previously vaccinated residents and staff receiving boosters; reporting as a percentage of those vaccinated could appear to overstate the percentage of the population that is fully protected.

For those with a spouse, sibling, parent, or other loved one in a nursing home, AARP has developed 10 key questions to ask facilities—including questions about booster shots—to help keep them safe and stay informed.

CONTACT: Mark Hollis at mhollis@aarp.org or 512.480.2429

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