Nursing Home Staff Shortages Linger as Vaccine Mandate Looms

The delta variant drove the share of nursing homes reporting staff shortages to the highest level ever in September—and the situation could worsen in coming months, according to new research.

As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services prepares to unveil guidelines requiring all health-care workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the data has illuminated lingering concerns that the mandate will further exacerbate the nursing home staffing problem.

“There will be pockets, in parts of the country, where there will have to be some closures of units and possibly entire facilities, because they just aren’t staffed enough to take care of the people safely. But I don’t think that’s widespread,” said Chris Laxton, executive director at AMDA—The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. “So far, what we’ve seen is that when push comes to shove, most people are going to get vaccinated.”

But in areas where vaccine hesitancy and labor shortages are already a problem, nursing homes struggling to find workers may find it harder to increase resident occupancy if the looming vaccine mandate spurs an exodus of more nursing home workers.

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