Missouri falls behind in Covid-19 vaccination rates for nursing home employees

Residents at the Joplin Health and Rehabilitation Center remain around 77% vaccinated, while their staff is about 48% vaccinated, mirroring state numbers.

NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. –Around 82% percent of nursing home residents in Missouri have been vaccinated, Compared to nursing home staff, where currently only 48% have been vaccinated, according to the CDC. 

Those state numbers mirror local nursing home vaccine rates.

“It’s about what the state and national one is, about 47% of our staff that are vaccinated,” said Michael Harrison, administrator for the Joplin Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Residents at the Joplin Health and Rehabilitation Center remain around 77% vaccinated, which is still close to state numbers.

Larry Bergner, administrator with the Newton County Health Department stresses the importance of nursing home workers being vaccinated.

 “A lot of the healthcare workers and nursing home employees have lower vaccination rates than some other employers and so we certainly want everyone that’s eligible to be vaccinated to get vaccinated but we would certainly also want  those folks who are directly working with the elderly, the immunocompromised, those who are sick,  we want those people especially to get vaccinated so that they don’t put themselves or others at risk,” Bergner said.

To boost these vaccine rates, the federal government announced they will require nursing home staff to be vaccinated to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding.

“So I think we will be seeing more mandated vaccinations from some employers, just out of fear that perhaps federal money may be withheld at some point in time,” Bergner said.

With this potential mandate, the nursing home says they’ll continue different methods of vaccine incentives, but hope to work with federal agencies to come up with rules that everyone can embrace.

“We’re continuing to encourage vaccinations, were hoping for some exceptions, some ways we can get around that because we just, its just kind of hard to believe that we would turn  away fifty percent of the people…in the past 18 months have been considered heroes, and just turn them out into other industries. if they’re not here they’re not taking care of our loved ones either,” said Harrison.