HealthDay News – Fresh government data show that COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents have fallen to the lowest levels seen since the pandemic began.

Some 67 residents died nationwide of COVID-19 during the week ending March 27, according to the latest statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that does not mean that nursing home staff and residents can relax just yet, experts warned.

There is growing concern about the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant of omicron. Nursing home residents continue to be more vulnerable both because of their age and underlying medical conditions, even if they have received vaccines and an initial booster shot.

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Getting the second booster shot that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration last week to nursing home residents “is a real policy priority,” David Grabowski, a health policy researcher at Harvard Medical School who studies nursing homes, told The New York Times. “We know this is protective.”

Despite that, nursing homes were slow to roll out the first booster shot. Even now, only 76% of nursing home residents have first boosters, federal data show. The data are worse for nursing home staff: About 86% are vaccinated, but only 43% have received boosters. Some states have fewer than one-third of nursing home employees who have received booster shots, The Times reported.

“We have a lot of nursing homes around the country that lag behind,” said Grabowski, adding that he was particularly worried about residents in facilities that serve predominantly people on Medicaid and minorities. “I think there are going to be real issues of equity here,” he added.

The New York Times Article