February 1 – COVID-19 vaccination and booster rates are slowly rising at skilled nursing facilities in Santa Barbara County as the surge of the omicron variant leads to a new wave of outbreaks among their staff and more adult residents aged.
Leaders at several facilities said that while they continue to work to expand access to boosters, some residents have refused a booster shot or can only receive one after recovering from COVID-19, and that some staff have applied for exemptions to vaccination mandates or are not yet. eligible.
Twelve of the county’s 14 skilled nursing facilities had active cases among staff as of last week, according to county public health data. The largest outbreaks were at Lompoc Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation with 38 active cases among staff and 12 among residents, and at the Marian Regional Medical Center extended care facility with 18 staff cases.
Lompoc Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Director Mark Hall said staff active cases fell to six on Wednesday, with 14 active cases among residents. Thanks to vaccinations as well as experience navigating past outbreaks, current cases have been easier to manage, he said.
“Part of it is the experience of dealing with it repeatedly. A lot of them are doing very well and not having a lot of symptoms,” Hall said. “You’re not dealing with such a sick patient population as before.”
As of mid-January, about 88% of the facility’s residents were fully immunized, and of those, 92% had received a booster shot, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Hall said they offer near-weekly vaccination clinics in partnership with PharMerica.
The full vaccination rate was lower among the approximately 140 staff at the facility, at around 85%. According to Hall, those not fully vaccinated all received exemptions based on religion or personal beliefs.
At Marian Extended Care, federal data indicates that 80% of residents were fully immunized by mid-January, and of those, 60% had received a booster.
However, post-acute care vice president Kathleen Sullivan distinguished between the facility’s long-term residents and its new patients coming into rehab after surgery, both of which are included in the data. federal.
“We have worked diligently with our resident population on primary vaccinations against COVID-19 and are actively engaged in providing boosters to those who are eligible. Of this population, 89% are currently vaccinated and 80% of this population has now their reminders like The immunization status of our patient population continually changes based on admissions and discharges from the facility,” Sullivan said Thursday.
Expanded Access and New Requirements
Santa Barbara County public health officials expect vaccination rates at skilled nursing centers to continue to rise, with mobile vaccination programs underway and a state mandate requiring reminders for healthcare workers taking effect in March.
“County Public Health works closely with local skilled nursing facilities. Our department has developed a Mobile Immunization Team that travels to skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and other residential care facilities. seniors since October 2021 to provide reminders to residents and staff,” Public Health Department spokeswoman Jackie Ruiz said.
All healthcare workers – except those with medical or religious exemptions – were required to complete their original vaccine series by September, with eligibility available for a booster two months after a one-dose series and six months after the second dose in a two-dose series.
While the mandate originally set February 1 as the deadline for recalls, state officials extended it through March to ensure those who were not yet eligible for a recall would be able to meet the deadline.
“We expect to see an increase in vaccination rates, including boosters, as the requirement for healthcare workers for vaccination (including boosters) begins March 1,” Ruiz said.