KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College,
and Maricopa Community Colleges

Copyright © 2024 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Many Arizona nursing home residents are vaccinated but not boosted

When it comes to the percentage of residents in long-term care who are boosted, the figure is low. Slightly more than 40% have received their third dose. And with the omicron variant spreading like wildfire in long-term care, AARP Arizona is calling on nursing homes to require boosters for staff and residents. 

While initial vaccination rates were high among residents, booster rates are much lower. 

Dave Voepel is the CEO of the Arizona Health Care Association, which represents skilled nursing homes:

"Remember, in long-term care we were Moderna state," she says "And there's a lot of anecdotal information out there that says Moderna was a little bit tougher on people than Pfizer was."

He’s talking about side effects, which are not uncommon after getting the Covid-19 vaccine. However Voepel says he expects the booster rate to jump in the next couple of weeks. 

Still, that explanation doesn’t sit well with the state director of AARP Arizona, Dana Kennedy. 

"So I'm just wondering if the facilities are being proactive and getting a pharmacy in to do the booster shots."

Kennedy says many long-term care residents are not ambulatory, so running up to a nearby pharmacy isn’t an option.

"You really need to have the booster shot come into the facility in order to get everybody boosters," she says. The pharmacy partnership that existed between  Walgreens and CVS and long-term care facilities came to an end last Spring. 

As for staff, those who work in Medicare/Medicaid participating facilities are now required to be vaccinated. 

As of Jan. 23, the Arizona Department of Health Services says 50.1% of Arizona residents in long-term care facilities having received a booster dose or an additional primary dose. 

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.