Kentucky nursing home employee vaccine concerns

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Nearly 50-percent of nursing homes employees in Kentucky have refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC.

Now, some of those workers are changing their mind, so, now what?

“I think, naturally, we’re all skeptical of it,” Karen Venis, CEO of Sayre Christian Village, an Assisted Living Facility in Lexington, said. “It is new and there is a group effect that there is truth to that.”

She said she’s seeing similar numbers as the state.

“The vast majority are saying it’s still too soon,” Venis said. “’I want to take a wait-and-see approach,’ and I do feel – even the last clinic we had, we had more folks come on board. I think that will continue to be the pattern as we make progress in this.”

Betsy Johnson, president of the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, agrees.

She says more nursing home employees are likely to sign-up for their first dose during the final CVS and Walgreens clinics.

What’s the problem with that? The workers will then be responsible for partnering with a health department to get the second dose.

“All long-term care communities in Kentucky received the Pfizer vaccine, so that means they need the Pfizer vaccine for their second dose,” Johnson said.

Venis said she already contacted the health department in Lexington. It has the Moderna vaccine, so her workers who may want their first dose during the final clinics will have to wait.

“We don’t want to be in the position where we’re putting any vaccine or person at-risk for wasting it,” Venis said.

If a nursing home partners with a local health department, another potential problem arises.

“To the extent that we’re dipping into their supply – that could be a problem,” Johnson said.

She said she hopes these kinks can be worked out, and despite obstacles, nursing home workers will be able to get the vaccine whether they change their mind next week, next month, or next year.

“It’s so important,” Johnson said. “It’s so important that both residents and staff are vaccinated.”

It’s a different story for the people the nursing home workers are caring for. Johnson said about 85-percent of them were vaccinated.

She points out skepticism about the vaccine and hesitancy to get them isn’t just a nursing home worker issue. Johnson thinks a lack of education about the vaccines plays a big part. To learn more about them, click here.

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