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Senior advocates call for vaccine requirements in nursing homes


By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service.

Advocates for older Americans are calling on the state to require booster shots for people who live and work in nursing homes.

AARP Nevada recently made the request in a letter to Gov. Steve Sisolak and to Richard Whitley, the director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. Nevada is third last in the nation for the rate of COVID booster shots among residents.

Barry Gold, director of government relations with AARP Nevada, said merely making the vaccine and booster optional has not worked.

“Eighty-one percent of staff in nursing homes in Nevada have received a vaccination,” said Gold. “But only 25% have received booster shots. And that simply is unacceptable.”

AARP’s COVID Dashboard shows that 77% of Nevada nursing-home residents have gotten the vaccination but only 34% have gotten a booster.

The letter also asks the state to make sure facilities are providing the personal protective equipment and testing that will allow COVID-safe visitation and recreational and social activities to take place.

Gold said there are really important questions for loved ones to ask of a nursing home.

“What is the status of COVID 19 vaccines in the facility?” said Gold. “Are they screening residents and staff in line with government regulation? What do they do if detected?”

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