Lag Creates Significant Vulnerability as Winter Approaches
Lansing, MI – Troubling new data on rates of “up to date” COVID-19 vaccinations shows significant vulnerability to the virus among nursing home residents and staff nationwide, including here in Michigan, according to AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard. Only two in five residents (40%) and less than one quarter of health care staff (24%) nationwide were up to date on their COVID vaccines as of the week ending October 23. For this Dashboard, “up to date” means someone has gotten the new bivalent booster or had a completed primary series of vaccines or previous booster within the past two months. Here in Michigan, 33.5% of nursing home residents and 14.9% of staff are up to date going into the winter season.
Of further concern, rates of nursing home resident deaths and cases from COVID-19 nationwide have been rising throughout October; each of the four weeks covered by the Dashboard saw more resident cases and deaths than the previous week. More than 700 residents died from COVID-19 nationwide during the four weeks ending October 23, and more than 35,000 were infected. In Michigan, resident cases increased from 4.3 per 100 residents in the previous four-week period ending September 18, to 4.74 per 100 residents in the four-week period ending October 23.
“We know that during the last two winters of this pandemic, the most severe COVID-19 impact occurred in late fall and early winter,” said Paula D. Cunningham, State Director of AARP, which serves more than 1.2 million members age 50 and older in Michigan. “Lagging booster rates put many nursing home residents and staff at increased risk of infection and even death. For the safety of some of our most vulnerable loved ones, these facilities must prioritize getting residents and staff up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations.”
Residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 4,500 nursing home residents in Michigan have died from COVID-19.
Michiganders who have a parent, spouse, sibling or other loved one in a nursing home can help keep them safe by asking the right questions of facility management and staff. AARP recommends asking these 10 questions to stay connected and keep your loved one safe.
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 AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.