Flu Shot Mandates for Nursing Home Staff Urged as Covid Persists

August 25, 2020

The potentially deadly confluence of a raging Covid-19 pandemic and the upcoming flu season is prompting growing calls for states to require influenza vaccinations for all nursing home health-care personnel.

The nation’s 15,000-plus nursing homes are already struggling with rising Covid-19 infections and deaths due to unchecked community spread. The seasonal flu, which has symptoms similar to Covid-19, also poses a deadly threat to older, frail nursing home residents with compromised immune systems.

With no prior experience to predict the way influenza and Covid-19 will interact, some nursing operators and industry experts say mandatory flu shots are needed to boost sagging vaccination rates among nursing home staff—whose interactions with residents have been the principal means of Covid transmission.

“Whether it’s a state or federal mandate, or whether it’s done through best practices or other means, we really don’t care. The truth is that nursing home staff are the lagging sector when it comes to vaccinations, in particular flu vaccinations,” said Christopher Laxton, executive director of AMDA—the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.