Home Nursing home Investigation: Less than half of Tennessee nursing home workers chose to get vaccinated

Investigation: Less than half of Tennessee nursing home workers chose to get vaccinated

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According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, participation among healthcare workers in TN nursing homes ranges from 9 to 100 percent.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the Tennessee Department of Health has said vaccinations are the best tool we have to fight it.

It’s a tool Donna Bowlin and Brendan Swanson wish they had last October when their mother, Mildred Bowlin, passed away from the virus.

“It was so hard to watch life leave her body,” said Donna Bowlin. “She just wasted away. She lay down in bed and developed lung and heart problems that she didn’t have before.”

Mildred Bowlin is one of nearly 2,700 residents of long-term care facilities who have died after contracting COVID-19. This is a group of people the state is watching closely as the Delta variant spreads more widely.

“There really is no population more vulnerable than these frail and medically fragile seniors in our nursing homes and long-term care facilities,” she said in a briefing Monday. “At best, most nursing homes have a staff immunization rate of around 50 percent, sometimes much less.”

10News pulled data from every facility in Tennessee accredited by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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On average, more than 75% of people living in long-term care facilities are fully immunized.

This number is significantly lower for the health workers who work there: only 48.4% have chosen to be vaccinated.

“I just can’t figure this out,” said Donna Bowlin. “You have to trust the science. You have to believe that this is what we need to help our country.”

CMS data revealed that vaccination rates vary considerably from facility to facility. Some, like Grace Healthcare from Decatur, have 100% participation rates.

Others, such as the Jefferson City Health and Rehabilitation Center, reported that only 24.8% of health workers were vaccinated. These lower numbers are for Donna Bowlin and her sister.

“The nurses were so great. You could tell they love their patients,” she said. “Why not love them a little more and get the shot?” “