James Balda headshot
Argentum President and CEO James Balda

Following the lead of at least 40 senior living providers and other national industry groups, Argentum on Monday announced its support for employer COVID-19 vaccination mandates for the senior living workforce.

Argentum President and CEO James Balda also sent a letter on Monday asking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., MPH, to ensure that older Americans remain prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines and potential boosters, and for a relaunch of the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care program. 

“COVID-19 variants, including the delta variant, are continuing to spread, and rates are increasing throughout the country. This once again puts senior living communities, their residents and team members at high risk,” Argentum said in a statement. “As a result, Argentum supports employers throughout the industry mandating vaccinations for their senior living workforce. Vaccination continues to be the best way to mitigate the continued spread and impact of COvID-19 to keep residents and staff healthy.

In his letter to the CDC, Balda said that the long-term care vaccine program was “instrumental and critical” in vaccinating senior living residents and staff. He asked the CDC to again prioritize senior congregate care settings —  including independent living communities, left out the first time — with federal on-site vaccination clinics.

Balda said that data show that the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines reduces over time to 83.7% by six months, including in preventing severe COVID-19. Most senior living residents and caregivers vaccinated through the long-term care pharmacy partnership, he wrote, have passed or are approaching the six-month mark post-vaccination and are now “at greater risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and possibly facing more serious health effects as a result.”

Growing vaccine mandate movement

LeadingAge and AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine have called for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for long-term care workers, and the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living and the American College of Health Care Administrators have announced that they “strongly” encourage it.

As of early August, at least 40 senior living providers are mandating vaccinations for all staff members. Argentum said that this number translates to one in four senior living employees being covered under an employee mandate.

“Increasing staff vaccinations will continue to be the most important driver in ensuring the well-being of residents and staff across the industry,” Argentum stated. “Employer mandates will continue to improve vaccination uptake among senior living employees, resulting in safer environments for all who rely on the senior living industry.”

Argentum’s announcement comes on the heels of Brookdale Senior Living President and CEO Lucinda “Cindy” Baier announcing last week a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for its workers. Biden administration officials also said they are considering withholding funds from long-term care providers they say aren’t doing enough to encourage employee vaccinations.

Brookdale joined several other senior living companies that already have COVID-19 vaccine mandates in place for employees. Among them: Aegis Living, ALG Senior, American House Senior Living Communities, The Arbor Co., Ascension Living, Atria Senior Living, Benchmark Senior Living, CareOne, Charles E. Smith Life Communities, Civitas Senior Living, Enlivant, Episcopal Retirement Services, Five Star Senior Living, the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, Genesis HealthCare, Harbor Retirement Associates (for new employees), IntegraCare, Integral Senior Living, JEA Senior Living, Jewish Home Family, Juniper Communities, LCS, Masonicare, Pacific Retirement Services, Presbyterian Senior Living, Retirement Center Management, Silverado, Sunrise Senior Living, Trilogy Health Services, Trinity Health, Vi Living and Wesley Enhanced Living.