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AARP finds Florida among nation's lowest for nursing home vaccination rates

Posted at 11:22 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 23:22:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The American Association of Retired Persons has added two new metrics to the data they collect on COVID cases and vaccinations in nursing homes, numbers that don't look good here in Florida.

"Currently what we're seeing is that Florida ranks among the worst of states with one of the lowest vaccination rates for healthcare workers that are in our nursing homes," said AARP communications manager Jamie Champion.

The national average of nursing home vaccination rates is just above 56%. Florida, however, ranks second to last, reporting only 41.8 percent. With concerns about the new Delta variant rising, Champion adds, "that's a huge issue, and the contagion and the continued exposure is a concern."

We reached out to Leading Age Florida here in Tallahassee to learn why vaccinations aren't mandatory for those trusted to care for our most vulnerable. Nick Van der Linden said there's a bit of a Catch 22.

"We're in a workforce crisis," Van der Linden said. "Providers are under a lot of pressure. So as opposed to mandating the vaccine, and feeling that they're creating extra pressure on staff that may leave, what they're instead doing is employing the educational route."

Champion also recommends seeking education for those caring for elderly loved ones.

"If there are other options that may be safe for your loved ones, including home-based care, those are important options to explore and to just know what's available to you.

You can find up-to-date vaccination information by the facility from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services website.