17 November 2020, Bavaria, Krailling: A resident of the Maria Eich nursing home walks across a corridor with his walker. Photo by: Sven Hoppe/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Though healthcare workers were among the first able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, just 32 of the 204 nursing homes in Mississippi have reported that at least 75% of their employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This data comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which has called the 75% threshold a “realistic goal for providers to meet.” 

The Biden administration announced in August that CMS was collaborating with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a plan that will require staff working at all nursing homes accepting Medicare and Medicaid funding to be vaccinated, or risk losing their federal funding. While the new rules are expected to go into effect by late October, around 40% of nursing home employees in Mississippi have refused to get vaccinated.

Since mid-June, all staff and employees of Mississippi nursing homes have been required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for the virus twice per week under an order from State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. 

Still, public health officials have maintained for months that the vast majority of outbreaks occurring in nursing home settings are due to unvaccinated employees. Employees account for nearly half of all infections that have occurred in these settings throughout the pandemic.

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Will Stribling covers healthcare and breaking news for Mississippi Today.