Study: Low RSV Vaccination Coverage Among Nursing Home Residents

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The study highlights the ongoing need for health care providers to recommend respiratory illness vaccinations to increase protection among nursing home residents during the peak season of infection.

New study findings announced updated vaccination coverage with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among individuals that reside in nursing homes, according to data published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RSV vaccine vial with syringe - Respiratory syncytial virus shot - Image credit: MargJohnsonVA | stock.adobe.com

Image credit: MargJohnsonVA | stock.adobe.com

The study authors noted that nursing home residents were at high risk of experiencing severe complications from respiratory viruses like RSV. Researchers assessed RSV, COVID-19, and influenza vaccination coverage in nursing homes from 2023 to the present, during the peak of respiratory virus season.

Since 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has required nursing home facilities to report COVID-19 vaccination coverage to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), according to study authors. However, reporting influenza and RSV vaccination coverage was optional.

In the study, the nursing homes reported individuals that received the most recent recommended vaccine, had a medical reaction to the vaccine, declined the vaccine, or were unaware of vaccination status.

“Because reporting of influenza and RSV vaccination coverage is voluntary, representativeness of facilities reporting these data was assessed by comparing important facility and county characteristics among reporting facilities and all facilities,” said the study authors in a press release.

The study authors noted that the percentage of vaccinated individuals and confidence intervals were analyzed using Poisson regression models. Coverage was ranked by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) region, county-level social vulnerability index (SVI) statistics, and facility size statistics.

The researchers noted that RSV vaccination was voluntarily reported by 2939 (19.4%) of individuals among 15,113 CMS-certified nursing homes. The data were collected the week of December 10, 2023, and found that 9.8% of residents that resided in nursing homes received the RSV vaccine.

“Coverage ranged from 5.9% and 7.1% in HHS regions 4 and 2, respectively, to 15.5% and 24.8% in HHS regions 7 and 8, respectively,” said the study authors in a press release.

The results also found that more individuals who resided in the least socially vulnerable counties were vaccinated to prevent RSV (10.7%), and vaccination was the lowest in most socially vulnerable counties (8.7%).

The NHSN results concluded that RSV vaccination was low among individuals in nursing homes, compared to vaccination coverage among other adults. However, influenza vaccination was higher among nursing home residents than the general population.

The low vaccination status among nursing home residents could be due to a lack of awareness from nursing home staff members on the risk of RSV disease and outbreaks. Because of the lack of familiarity with the illness, staff were not able to promote and recommend the vaccine to residents, noted the study authors.

The study authors noted that with increased awareness of RSV, an increase in vaccine coverage could occur.

Limitations in the study included data not directly examined by personal statistics, like age, race, and ethnicity. RSV vaccination was assessed by residents of all ages, not only individuals that were 60 years and older. This concludes that the vaccination rate could be higher among adults aged 60 years and older, compared to overall coverage.

The finding suggests that there is a need for health care providers to recommend respiratory illness vaccinations to increase protection among nursing home residents during the peak season of infection.

Reference

Coverage with Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and Updated COVID-19 Vaccines Among Nursing Home Residents — National Healthcare Safety Network, United States, December 2023. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. News release. December 22, 2023. Accessed January 2, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7251a3.htm.

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