DOVER, Del. (AP) — Many workers in Delaware’s long-term care facilities remain hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, even though the facilities represent the single deadliest environment for coronavirus patients.
As of Wednesday, state officials were reporting 695 COVID-related deaths among residents of long-term facilities, roughly half the state total, even though they account for less than 3% of the positive cases.
The head of the state Division of Health Care Quality, which oversees long-term care facilities, told members of the legislature’s budget writing committee on Wednesday that thousands of residents and staff have received the COVID vaccine, but she acknowledged that there remains a reluctance among industry staff to get the vaccine.
“We’re trying different methods to increase the staff’s consent for the vaccine,” said Corinna Getchell. “We are aware that there are still people out there, but we are actively working on that.”
But Getchell noted that the state has not required workers at long-term care facilities to be vaccinated, and that “persuasion,” in the words of one lawmaker, is left up to individual facilities.
Getchell said some facilities are offering staff members an extra leave day if they get the vaccine, while others are considering monetary incentives.
As of Tuesday, 7,223 residents of long-term care facilities had received the first dose of vaccine, and 5,509 had received both doses.
Among staff members, 5,394 had received the first dose and 3,923 had received both doses.
Getchell was unable to provide lawmakers with the total numbers of residents and workers in long-term care facilities, which would show the percentage of each population that has been vaccinated.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Jeff Bullock expressed frustration in his agency budget hearing at the number of staff members at the state-run veterans home that have not received the vaccine.
“All of our residents who are medically able have been vaccinated now, so that’s a really, really good thing,” he said. “I wish I could say the same for the staff.”
Officials said only about 60% of staff at the veterans home had received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 98% of residents who had received both doses.