Monday, December 14, 2020
Some nursing-home residents and workers skeptical of coronavirus vaccine, worry it was approved too quickly
"After 110,000 deaths ravaged the nation’s nursing homes and pushed them to the front of the vaccine line, they now face a vexing problem: Skeptical residents and workers balking at getting the shots," Bernard Condon and Matt Sedensky report for The Associated Press. Some worry that seniors "could be put at risk again by vaccines sped into development in months rather than years. Some who live and work in homes question if enough testing was done on the elderly, if enough is known of side effects and if the shots could do more harm than good."
Public-health officials say the Pfizer vaccine is safe for the elderly. "In an ongoing study of nearly 44,000 people, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the vaccine was safe and more than 90% effective across recipients of different ages, including older adults and those with health problems that put them at high risk of Covid-19," Condon and Sedensky report. "But the undercurrent of doubt in nursing homes persists, sometimes fueled by divisive politics, distrust of institutions and misinformation. And so far, the workers are the ones being heard the loudest. . . . Internal surveys by groups including the American Nurses Foundation suggest many workers in long-term care facilities are so concerned about the vaccine they would refuse it."
Though nursing homes account for 40 percent of Covid-19 deaths, less than 1% of the nation's population lives in long-term care facilities, according to The Atlantic's Covid Tracking Project. Nursing homes are a significant vector for spreading the infection in rural areas, but federal rules changed in September relaxed employee-testing requirements for many rural nursing homes.