CDC Encourages Flu, COVID-19, RSV Vaccines for Seniors in Care Facilities

Jan. 2, 2024
All three vaccines have seen underwhelming uptake in older populations most vulnerable to the diseases

According to a Dec. 23, 2023 press release, CDC is reporting that most nursing home residents have not received an updated COVID-19 vaccine or an RSV vaccine. This news comes despite CDC’s attempts to stress the importance of the shots because of the greater risk of serious illness in older people who contract the diseases.

CDC stresses that this year [2023] marks the “first time” that “vaccines are available to protect older adults in the United States against all three fall/winter respiratory illnesses: flu, COVID-19, and RSV.”

For its part, CDC states in the release that it “regularly monitors all reports and data about the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines” while also convening “bi-weekly calls with long-term care partners to address challenges [and] develop solutions.” CDC’s own Bridge Access Program “works to improve equitable access to vaccines by connecting manufacturers with long-term care pharmacies to prioritize vaccine distribution.” The agency also “distributes a weekly newsletter with respiratory virus resources and information specific to long-term care providers,” hosts “speaking engagements and webinars” with information about the vaccines and illnesses, and works with “the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to identify solutions to address feedback…around billing and reimbursement challenges which have been a barrier to vaccine administration,” which led to CMS issuing “a letter to plans and pharmacy benefit managers to outline the concerns and provide guidance on ways to improve practices.”

In addition to the work CDC does on its own behalf, CDC urges healthcare providers to offer the recommended vaccinations to nursing home residents. It encourages the nursing homes themselves to collaborate with “state, local and federal public health” and “long-term care pharmacy partners to address barriers contributing to low vaccination coverage.” The release stresses the importance of vaccination in warding off severe disease, hospitalization, and death from flu, COVID-19, and RSV, especially in older Americans.

CDC’s website has the press release in full.