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AZ Nursing Homes Rank Poorly on COVID Boosters


Thursday, December 1, 2022   

Arizona is currently in last place nationwide in terms of nursing home residents and staff being up-to-date on their COVID-19 boosters.

That's according to AARP's Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard.

"Up-to-date" means a person has gotten the new bivalent shot, or has completed the primary series of vaccines or boosters within the last two months.

In Arizona, 22% of nursing home residents and only about 15% of staff are up-to-date.

Alex Juarez - communications director with AARP Arizona - said with numbers like that, these facilities could continue being disproportionately affected by the virus.

"It's extremely concerning," said Juarez, "because we are going into the winter season and as we know it, this winter season is probably going to be a double whammy. Because we are going to have the flu season probably at a higher percentage rate than in previous years, and COVID is still prevalent or still around."

According to the Dashboard, the rate of COVID-related nursing home deaths and cases were on the rise across the country through October.

Since the pandemic began, almost 2,600 Arizona nursing home residents have died from COVID-19.

Juarez called them "million dollar questions" - why are the rates so low and why is Arizona in last place?

He said healthcare professionals believe it's partly due to "burnout" - people just tired of dealing with COVID.

He added that, no matter where you stand when it comes to vaccines, at least inquire about what nursing-care facilities are doing to keep this vulnerable population safe.

"To ask questions. I think that is very critical," said Juarez. "What is the status of COVID-19 vaccinations in the facility? How is the facility communicating the importance of COVID-19 information? Are they still providing the information to the family members and the residents?"

Juarez said families who are concerned about the answers they get should take action.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, nursing home staff and visitors infected with the virus are the most likely sources of introduction into a facility.

Disclosure: AARP Arizona contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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