President Joe Biden is putting pressure on nursing home staff to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. In a recent press briefing, the President offered nursing homes from coast to coast an ultimatum—get vaccinated or lose federal funding.
"More than 130,000 residents in nursing homes have, sadly, over the period of this virus, passed away. At the same time, vaccination rates among nursing home staff significantly trail the rest of the country,"
"The studies show that a highly vaccinated nursing home staff is associated with at least 30% fewer COVID-19 cases among long-term care residents. With this announcement, I'm using the power of the federal government, as a payer of health care costs, to ensure we reduce those risks to our most vulnerable seniors."
According to CBS News, Biden's mandate would apply to 5,000 nursing home facilities and 1.3 million workers. To this point, federal entities have strongly encouraged nursing home staffers to get vaccinated, but there have not been any requirements. However, many sectors of the world already require other vaccinations against polio, smallpox, measles and other diseases.
"Let's be clear. Vaccination requirements have been around for decades," Biden added.
"Students, health care professionals, our troops are typically required to receive vaccines to prevent everything from polio to smallpox to measles to mumps to rubella. In fact, the reason most people in America don't worry about polio, smallpox, measles, mumps or rubella today is because of vaccines."
There are still elements of Biden's plan that remain unclear. For example, the President did not identify a specific deadline for nursing home workers to get vaccinated. Also, Biden did not specify whether or not there would be an alternative, intensive COVID-19 testing programming for those who still hope to avoid the vaccination requirement.
Nursing home staffers have pushed back against the Biden administration's mandate. American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living CEO Mark Parkinson has no issue with Biden's mandate, but he does not think it should be limited to just nursing homes. Instead, he believes it should apply to all medical facilities and their employees.
"Vaccination mandates for health care personnel should be applied to all health care settings," Parkinson said.
"Without this, nursing homes face a disastrous workforce challenge."