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Nursing homes risk losing funding if staff refuses vaccine

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Despite the tragic events of last year, some nursing home staff are opposed to getting the COVID-19 shot.

But, pressure to get vaccinated if working in a long-term care facility is escalating. Should employees decide not to get the shot, nursing homes will pay a price.

Under the administration, federal health officials threatened to take away Medicare and Medicaid funding from facilities if all workers are not fully vaccinated. 

News 8 spoke with Dr. Kathleen Unroe, research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, who explains the consequences. 

“It’s been devastating in nursing homes,” Unroe said. “But, the vaccines have provided so much hope to all of us. So, the number of infections and mortality were so high for so long. And then, once the vaccinations were available, we’ve seen mortality rates fall. Now, we’re in a situation where we’re seeing additional outbreaks.”

But, it’s not only about the risk of increased infections in the facilities. Unroe also says nursing homes will lose staff, which is also a safety issue considering residents need extensive, hands-on care. She gives the example of the dangers of not having enough staff to answer call lights or help escort those in need to a bathroom facility and need to be fed. 

Unroe goes on to say it’s not just about having the vaccine available. It’s about universal uptake to protect the vulnerable.