As outbreaks at nursing homes increase, what are vaccination rates like?

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Wake County announced three new outbreaks at long-term care facilities Thursday alone. It’s a concerning trend when considering the high number of fatalities seen in those homes during the pandemic.

The state classifies an outbreak as two or more people testing positive for COVID-19.

CBS 17 spoke with an employee at one of their homes, Tower Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Raleigh. He asked to be anonymous.

“They really do give enough staff the right equipment, the right mask, everything. And like I said, you always get tested if you don’t feel good,” he said.

He also noted that vaccines aren’t mandatory. The latest numbers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reflect that. At Tower, about 79 percent of residents have received a shot, only 60 percent of current health care personnel have.

“They are telling us to get vaccinated, but it’s a personal choice,” that employee said.

CBS 17 also paid a visit to Springbrook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Clayton. In April 2020, several employees reached out from the home, saying management wasn’t telling them when residents tested positive.

So how are vaccination rates there? According to the CMS, 74 percent of residents are vaccinated, but only 48 percent of current health care personnel are.

“I believe they all should be vaccinated. They’re not understanding that these are elderly people who are sick, and they need to be protected, too,” Patricia Garcia said.

Garcia’s mother, Cynthia Torres, died at Springbrook just as the facility was going into lockdown. It wasn’t from COVID-19.

She believes the vaccine should be mandatory for staff at long-term care facilities.

After calling and emailing, CBS 17 stopped by, trying to find out what they’re doing to get more staff vaccinated.

“I’m sorry, this is private property so I’m going to have to ask you to step off,” a woman who came to the door said.

CBS 17 still hasn’t heard back from Springbrook.

CBS 17 asked that employee what families with loved ones in those facilities should do if they have concerns. He said to call up that home and ask what plans they have in place should an outbreak happen.

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