Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare
CMS issued this News Alert just a few minutes ago:
As part of its commitment to improve transparency and help families and caregivers find the best nursing home care for their loved ones, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is now posting data on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots administered to nursing home residents and staff on the Medicare.gov Care Compare website. The data will show resident and staff booster rates at the facility level and will include national and state averages.
The current data indicate that the rate of booster shots administered to nursing home residents is comparable to the national average for adults over the age of 65. It also shows the rate of booster shots administered to nursing home staff lags behind the national average of those over the age of 18 (for staff).
As the CDC has reported, receiving a booster dose is the most effective way to avoid serious illness from COVID-19, including the Omicron variant. By posting these data, CMS is highlighting this information for the public and other stakeholders to help increase the number of nursing home residents and staff who obtain a booster shot.
CMS is also urging facilities to communicate with their fully vaccinated staff members and residents about the importance of staying up to date with COVID-19 shots to protect the vulnerable nursing home population. The new booster data will be displayed along with the other COVID-19 vaccination data already included on the Medicare.gov Care Compare website.
The CMS Omnibus Health Care Staff Vaccination rule requires that, by the Phase 2 implementation dates, staff be fully vaccinated, meaning individuals have completed their primary vaccination series, which is two weeks after a person has received their dose of a single dose vaccine, or two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine. CMS requires that nursing homes educate their residents and staff and offer the COVID-19 vaccine, which includes the booster, but does not currently require booster doses. CMS is working with long term care (LTC) providers to identify strategies and partnerships to obtain and administer COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for residents and staff. These efforts include working with the LTC community to identify and promote best practices for increasing vaccination rates. CMS continues to analyze vaccination data for residents and staff that nursing homes submit to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Health Safety Network (NHSN) and deploys its Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) teams to assist nursing homes with low rates of vaccinations and disparities in access to vaccinations. LTC providers are encouraged to consider the option that works best for their residents and staff when coordinating access to COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, either in the local community or on-site.
Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes have been reporting COVID-19 data in the CDC’s NHSN since May 2020. Providing the booster information on the consumer-friendly Care Compare site is one more tool that allows people to have a more comprehensive understanding of the environment they live in or are considering for themselves or a loved one.
The vaccination section is located below the Star Ratings on Care Compare. To view vaccination rates, select ‘View COVID-19 Vaccination Rates’. The vaccination and booster data posted on Care Compare is updated every other Thursday with the most recent available data. For example, on Thursday, February 17, the vaccination and booster data will be updated with data reported in NHSN as of February 6. The display is delayed by a week and several days because of the validation and posting process. Updates will continue every other week.