Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Senate Aging Committee Chair Bob Casey, Jr., D-Pa., and Aging Committee Ranking Member Tim Scott, R-S.C., today asked the Biden administration to collect and make public data on COVID-19 vaccination rates in the nation’s nursing homes at the facility level.
The letter, sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, comes as nursing home residents and workers have faced an outsized toll during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 130,000 nursing home residents and workers have died since the pandemic began, according to federal data.
“We are encouraged by federal data showing that more than 7.6 million vaccines have been administered in long-term care facilities. We write to urge you to take immediate steps that provide the public and Congress with transparent information showing the rates of COVID-19 vaccinations in the nation’s nursing homes,” the senators wrote. “We are concerned that the continued absence of publicly available COVID-19 vaccination information at the facility level leaves residents, workers, and their families in the dark, makes it impossible to fully evaluate the effect of these vaccines, and hinders efforts to ensure equitable vaccine access for communities of color.”
While nursing homes are currently able to submit vaccination information to the CDC on a voluntary basis, they are not required to do so, which has resulted in limited participation by the industry. In the letter, the senators called on Secretary Becerra to require nursing homes to report COVID-19 vaccination data directly to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and have the information published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). They also asked that COVID-19 vaccination data be displayed on Care Compare, similar to flu and pneumonia vaccines.
Releasing this data now, and requiring facilities to report this information regularly, is especially important given reports of low vaccine uptake among long-term care workers, and the high rate of resident and staff turnover in these facilities. Reliable and updated information will also help individuals and families assess the risk of COVID-19 spreading within a facility. Making vaccination data public will also help researchers and policymakers analyze issues such as the speed and equity of vaccine distribution, and the vaccine’s role in reducing disease and death in nursing homes.
The full letter can be found here
A web version of this release is here.