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Health News Florida
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Genesis Nursing Homes To Workers: Get Vaccine Or Lose Job

Syringe injecting arm.jpeg
David Goldman
/
AP
In this December 2020 file photo, a droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Providence, R.I. Genesis Healthcare, the nation’s largest nursing home operator which has 70,000 employees at nearly 400 nursing homes and senior communities, told its workers this week they will have to get COVID-19 vaccinations to keep their jobs — a possible shift in an industry that has largely rejected compulsory measures for fear of triggering an employee exodus that could worsen already dangerous staffing shortages.

The decision is a possible shift in an industry that has largely rejected compulsory measures for fear of triggering an employee exodus that could worsen already dangerous staffing shortages.

The nation’s largest nursing home operator told its workers this week they will have to get COVID-19 vaccinations to keep their jobs.

That's a possible shift in an industry that has largely rejected compulsory measures for fear of triggering an employee exodus that could worsen already dangerous staffing shortages.

Genesis Healthcare has 70,000 employees at nearly 400 nursing homes and senior communities. None are in Florida. The Pennsylvania-based company is giving employees until Aug. 23 to get their first shot.

"Our move to adopt universal vaccination is an incredibly important decision, and we very seriously weighed the competing concerns before proceeding down this path," the company said in a post on its website. "While we would have greatly preferred a strictly voluntary process, our commitment to health and safety outweighs concerns about imposing a requirement. We have concluded that this approach provides the safest and most effective course of action to ensure the health and welfare of our patients, residents and staff."

Some experts are calling for mandatory vaccinations at nursing homes, warning that unprotected staff members are endangering residents. This past week, there were 1,250 nursing home residents infected - twice the number of the previous week - and 202 deaths, according to federal data.

Interviews with managers at 10 mostly smaller nursing home operations across the nation that have made vaccinations mandatory found that the threat of workers quitting en masse over the shots may be overblown.

Some workers have rejected the vaccine because they think it was rushed into development and is unsafe, or they feel protected through immunity because they already had COVID-19. Others have decided based on false information about the vaccines.

“It’s too soon to put that crap in my body,” said Christina Chiger, a nurse’s aide at a nursing home in Tampa. “It took how many years to perfect the polio vaccine? This was done in months.”