US nursing home deaths appear to be at a pandemic low.

Deaths in US nursing home residents from Covid appear to be at their lowest since the coronavirus first swept the US more than two years ago. according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 67 residents died in the week ending March 27. Although that number could be adjusted in the coming weeks, it reflects the lowest level last reached in June 2021 before the hacked base with Delta and Omicron variants. Although cases among the population increased much more sharply in the fall and winter, the death toll still reached about 1,500 in January before falling steadily.

But experts say there is little reason for complacency. Nursing home residents remain highly susceptible to the virus due to their age and underlying medical conditions. While booster shots have been shown to protect against severe illness in the latest spike, federal regulators have authorized second enhanced photos Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines last week. There is growing concern about a highly contagious subvariable of Omicron, known as BA.2.

David Grabowski, a health policy researcher at Harvard Medical School who studies nursing homes, said giving a second booster shot to nursing home residents “is a real policy priority.” the”. “We know this is protective.”

While there was a significant push by the federal government and major pharmacy chains to immunize nursing home residents when the initial shots became available, many facilities was slow to deploy booster shots last fall even at the start of the epidemic. About 88 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, and about 76 percent have been vaccinated, according to Latest federal data.

Vaccination workers have gotten tougher, with the federal mandate requiring health care workers to be immunized facing regulatory challenges. While 86 percent of employees are fully vaccinated, only 43 percent are vaccinated. In 13 states, less than a third of employees received additional immunizations.

“We have a lot of nursing homes around the country that are falling behind,” said Dr. Grabowski, adding that he was concerned about residents in facilities that serve primarily Medicaid beneficiaries and people of color. “I think there are going to be real issues of fairness here,” he said.

Brendan Williams, executive director of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, a state nursing home trade group, said the gap between those who were initially vaccinated and those who received the booster dose could continue. continue to increase. People are more skeptical about the need for additional injections. “I’m worried there’s been a lot of mixed messages from the federal government,” he said.

While many nursing homes say they will provide supplemental dosing for their staff and residents, there doesn’t appear to be any significant urgency, Dr. Grabowski said. In Connecticut, which this year issued an executive order mandating booster shots for workers in nursing homes, state health officials reported indicated that a similar directive for a second booster was not imminent.

Mr. Williams remains cautious. “Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a crisis,” he said. “It’s not the spotlight, but things can always change. It’s related. “

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