ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — The COVID-19 vaccine and nursing homes: Governor Andrew Cuomo says it's a crucial combination.
"100% of nursing homes facilities have had their day one first vaccination. That is great news," Governor Cuomo said.
But that does not mean 100% of nursing home residents and staff have received the vaccine.
According to Governor Cuomo, 13% of residents and 21% of staff have declined to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Statewide, 16% of residents declined, and 32% of staff said no to the vaccine.
"There are patients as well as employees who have declined the vaccine. They have the right to do that," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.
71% of Western New York nursing home residents have been vaccinated. That compares to 67% statewide. 41% of nursing home staff in Western New York have taken the shot. Statewide, 37% of staff have been inoculated.
While some nursing home workers and residents have been vaccinated, positive rates in specific nursing homes remain high.
For the week ending January 16th, Schofield Residence in the Town of Tonawanda had a 13.3% positive rate. For the week ending January 12th, Safire Rehabilitation of Southtowns had almost a 27% positive rate.
Those rates are why County Executive Poloncarz said it's important nursing home residents and staff are vaccinated.
"If we do not get to a certain percentage, we will have a difficult time dealing with this because we will still have individuals who are sick. We will never reach heard immunity," Poloncarz said.
A representative from New York's Department of Health provided the following statement:
"As the Governor and Health Commissioner have said, we are conducting outreach in communities across New York State to help dispel vaccine hesitancy and will continue to promote vaccine confidence to ensure the highest vaccination rate possible. It is critical that the public understand the facts: the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective; it cannot give you COVID-19, the vaccine’s side effects are generally minimal and an indication that it is working; and the vaccine is free. We are promoting this messaging through a variety of platforms, including PSAs, the Vaccine Equity Task Force and meetings with the state legislature and county executives, working to help empower the community to help spread the word."
The governor said more than 225,000 doses have been reserved for long term care facilities. 105,000 doses have been given out, leaving more than 120,000 unused. Governor Cuomo said they won't go to waste.
“We're going to reallocate those that are unused in the long term care facility program to the state program,” Governor Cuomo said.
Governor Cuomo said if any nursing home resident or staffer who initially declined the COVID-19 vaccine changes their minds, vaccines will be available.