Unvaccinated nursing home workers test positive for COVID-19 at a rate TEN TIMES higher than their vaccinated colleagues, study finds
- Unvaccinated nursing home employees were testing positive for COVID-19 at a rate ten times higher than their vaccinated peers, a new study finds
- Two Massachusetts nursing homes regularly tested all staff members twice a week to detect asymptomatic cases
- The surveillance program found that one out of every 1,000 tests of an unvaccinated person was positive – 0.1% – compared to 0.01% of the vaccinated
- Study was performed before the highly contagious Delta variant became dominant in the U.S., and before the vaccine’s effectiveness have waned
Unvaccinated nursing home workers are significantly more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than their colleagues who have gotten the shots, a new study finds.
Researchers from Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare systems in Massachusetts found that the unvaccinated employees tested positive for the virus at a rate ten times their vaccinated peers.
Nursing home workers were among the first to have the vaccine available to them when the rollout began last year because their jobs require frequent interaction with a very vulnerable population.
The findings provide further evidence that those who opted to get the immunization protected themselves from catching – and spreading – the virus within the facilities.
A vast majority, 21 out of 25, of asymptomatic Covid cases detected by the testing programs at two Massachusetts nursing homes were among unvaccinated people (orange lines). The trend of positive cases among the staff matched the trend of cases in the state overall
Nursing home residents and staff were among the first people to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine due to the vulnerable population of residents. Pictured: A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot at a New York City, New York, nursing home on December 22, 2020
Researchers, who published their findings on Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, gathered data from Covid surveillance programs at two VA nursing homes in Massachusetts.
Nearly 2,000 staff members at the facilities were tested twice weekly from January 2021 to June 2021.
The study only included surveillance of asymptomatic cases, because a person who experienced Covid symptoms would be placed into a different protocol than others.
In total, 52,557 tests were administered, of which 31,523 were among vaccinated employees and 21,034 of the vaccinated.
By the end of the study date, 70 percent of staff members included in the study were fully vaccinated.
The researchers recorded 21 positive tests among unvaccinated people, around one out of every 1,000 tests administered, or 0.1 percent.
That rate was ten-fold higher than the positivity rate among their vaccinated colleagues, who recorded four positive tests out of every 1,000, or 0.01 percent.
A majority of cases detected were over winter, during late January and early February.
All of the positive cases among vaccinated employees came in late April and early May.
There was also at least one staff member who contracted the virus from a resident at the nursing home.
The staff member was unvaccinated and the resident was fully vaccinated.
Researchers note that the trend of cases within the nursing matched the overall trend of cases in Massachusetts, with the state also in the midst of a Covid surge over the winter – while cases slowly trickled down in the spring months.
The study demonstrates the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines at preventing infection, while also demonstrating that they are not totally perfect either.
The research was performed during the first half of 2020, before the highly contagious Delta variant had become the dominant strain in the U.S.
While genetic sequencing was not performed on the positive test results gathered from this study, the researchers believe that those who were infected had the Alpha variant since that was the dominant strain in Massachusetts for much of the study period.
Experts now know the efficacy of the jabs wanes over time as well, and during the first half of the year study period any were still freshly vaccinated, which could affect the results.