Nursing Homes Are Seeing COVID-19 Cases Drop Due To Vaccines, Federal Officials Say
Vaccines are cutting down COVID-19 case numbers in US nursing homes, a federal health official reported on Thursday, a long-awaited break in the deadly grip of the pandemic on the most vulnerable older adults.
Nursing homes have been the deadliest place for people with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, killing more than 150,000 residents and staff, so far. Vaccination at long-term care facilities was a high priority in the nationwide rollout of coronavirus vaccines that started in December, as COVID-19 cases reached record levels nationwide, and nursing homes locked down over the holidays. Now the vaccines are starting to make a difference, newly released health data suggests, accelerating a 22% drop in nursing home COVID-19 case rates seen from Dec. 20 to Jan. 10.
The evidence comes in a comparison of same-county COVID-19 cases in 800 vaccinated skilled nursing facilities against 1,7000 unvaccinated ones released on Thursday by an American Health Care Association research center. At a time when COVID-19 cases were dropping nationwide at nursing homes, ones that received their first shots in the third and fourth week of December saw a 48% decline against a 21% drop in the unvaccinated ones, more than twice as steep a fall just three weeks later in mid-January. Among staff, new COVID-19 cases dropped more in the ones that held those earlier vaccine clinics, by 33%, against ones that did not, which fell 18%, in the same counties.
“If verified with additional data, this could expedite the reopening of long-term care facilities to visitors,” said the AHCA’s David Gifford, in a statement on the analysis. Even more encouraging is evidence that the vaccines help limit the spread of the virus, the association suggested.