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Long-term facility staff vaccination rates increasing

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 11:16 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - COVID-19 vaccinations continue across Arkansas. Including among long-term care providers’ staff. On average, about 66 percent of the state’s facility staff are fully vaccinated, with 83.5 percent of residents vaccinated.

“We still do have quite a few employees at various facilities that are opposed and have declined a vaccine when it’s been offered to them,” said Rachel Bunch, executive director with the Arkansas Health Care Association.

Bunch says there are not any problem areas in the state. It varies, some facilities have high percentages of those vaccinated, and some are as low as in the 20′s. Numbers are continuing to increase, though.

“Numbers just continue to grow. We’ve remained our position as the highest, the state with the highest numbers in the SEC states for quite a few months now,” said Bunch.

Bunch says the numbers are still not where they need to be.

“That number 66, while we are the highest in the region, it still shows we have quite a few people who are healthcare workers in long-term facilities who haven’t gotten the vaccine, so we’re just continuing education,” said Bunch.

Bunch says right now; most long-term facilities do not have staffing challenges. She says it’s a waiting game with the vaccine mandate. There are many details they’re waiting on, so Bunch says she’s unsure how it’ll play a role in staffing in the future.

“One thing that we don’t know yet is if there will be a testing exemption, and so the testing exemption is something lots of health care providers have requested that if they got tested say weekly or something like that in replacement of a vaccine,” said Bunch.

Bunch says that all workers follow strict protocols, including wearing masks and strict sanitation procedures regardless of vaccination status.

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