At each of the 11 nursing homes in the Salem area, at least half of their workers have been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 8, according to federal data.
But there’s a wide range between facilities of what share of their health workers have gotten their shots. A couple of homes — Dallas Retirement Village Health Center and Avamere Court at Keizer — barely make the halfway mark. Other facilities have about 80% of health workers fully vaccinated, according to data published by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In recent weeks, there has been a greater focus on vaccination as people sickened with by the delta variant of COVID-19 fill hospitals. The surge also has upped the stakes on efforts to vaccinate caregivers. The delta variant has been preying largely on the unvaccinated but also poses a risk to vulnerable people with weaker immune systems, such as people who live in nursing homes.
A CDC graphic demonstrating how the delta variant spreads more easily than previous versions of the novel coronavirus.
President Joe Biden announced last week that his administration will effectively require nursing home workers to get vaccinated by tying federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid to vaccination in those settings.
Nursing homes are just one type of long-term care setting and are regulated by the federal government. There are other types of long-term care settings, such as assisted living and residential care, that are regulated by the state.
Outbreaks, vaccination rates in long-term care facilities
As of Wednesday, Aug. 18, there were 72 active outbreaks in Oregon long-term care facilities. Six hundred and sixty-six cases and 24 deaths are associated with those outbreaks.
Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday that Oregon licensed health providers, including workers at long-term care facilities, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18 or six weeks after approval by the Food and Drug Administration – whichever comes later.
In nine of the 11 nursing homes in Marion and Polk counties, the rate of vaccination among each facility’s health workers is higher than that among the overall population in the county the facility is located in. In Marion County, 61% of residents are fully vaccinated, and in Polk County, 65% of residents are.
Among the nursing homes in Marion and Polk counties, the facility with the highest rate of health workers vaccinated is Marquis Marian Estates in Sublimity, where about 84% of health workers are vaccinated, according to the federal data.
The Marquis Companies started offering vaccines on-site to workers in December 2020, Phil Fogg, Jr., president and CEO of Marquis Companies, said in a written statement provided to the Statesman Journal.
Fogg pointed to “early and proactive” communication about the vaccine and efforts to educate staff on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. The company also owns Consonus Pharmacy, which was approved to provide the vaccine, and that allowed the company to “seamlessly” provide the vaccine to workers, Fogg said.
“The leadership at Marquis communicated the science-backed efficacy and safety behind the COVID-19 vaccine to staff, residents, and their families in a consistent and transparent manner,” Fogg said.
Fogg said Marquis Companies supports the Biden administration’s effort to mandate vaccines for workers in nursing homes and that it continues to “educate (its) staff with science-based information.”
The Statesman Journal called all 11 facilities from Marion and Polk counties in the federal data, but some said no administrator was available that day and most others did not return messages seeking comment.
Percent of vaccinated workers at Oregon nursing homes varies
Among the two counties, the facility with the lowest rate of vaccination among workers is Dallas Retirement Village Health Center, in Polk County, with 51.5% of health care personnel fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The facility with the second-lowest rate in the two counties is Avamere Court at Keizer, where just under 55% of health workers are fully vaccinated.
Right in the middle of the Salem-area range is Independence Health and Rehabilitation Center, where 71% of health workers are vaccinated, according to the federal data.
Across the state, there is an even wider variation in vaccine uptake among workers in nursing homes. Some facilities in the Portland area have vaccinated nearly all of their health workers. On the low end, 12 of roughly 130 Oregon nursing homes reported that less than half of their health staff have been fully vaccinated.
Here is what share of workers were fully vaccinated at each nursing home in Marion and Polk Counties as of Aug. 8, 2021, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:
Providence Benedictine Nursing Center: 75%
French Prairie Nursing and Rehabilitation Center: 82%
Independence Health and Rehabilitation Center: 71%
Avamere Transitional Care at Sunnyside: 76%
Dallas Retirement Village Health Center: 52%
Windsor Health and Rehabilitation Center: 67%
Avamere Court at Keizer: 55%
Salem Transitional Care: 66%
Marquis Marian Estates: 84%
The Oaks at Sherwood Park: 78%
Tierra Rose Care Center: 69%
More information on vaccinations
Vaccines for COVID-19 are free and widely available in Oregon. You can visit covidvaccine.oregon.gov/ to find a place near you to get vaccinated.
If you want to learn more about the vaccine, how it works and how scientists have studied its safety, you can go to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/safety-of-vaccines.html, or talk to your doctor.