male patient about to get COVID vaccine from healthcare worker

As the pandemic continues to inflict damage on staffing levels, the home care and home health field is turning to the topic of vaccine hesitancy among workers.

After concentrating on first COVID-19 vaccine prioritization and then access, it has shifted its focus to vaccine education, two association heads told McKnight’s Home Care Daily.

Vicki Hoak, executive director,

“Surveys show a lot of aides aren’t going to get the vaccine or are in the place where [they] want to learn more about it,” said Vicki Hoak, executive director of the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA), which represents more than 3,000 home care agencies across the United States.

In response, her organization has put together a toolkit for home care agencies with resources, facts and sample communications to workers and family members. It also is working on a video highlighting peer-to-peer education.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) also is redoubling its educational efforts to increase vaccination rates among workers. Improving the numbers, so far, has not proven to be an easy task, acknowledged Bill Dombi, NAHC president.

“We’re doing the next generation of education,” Dombi said. “It hasn’t achieved the success we want.”

Like HCAOA, his organization is trying the approach of leadership by example, or peer-to-peer. He pointed out that while the NAHC website offers a plethora of information about the vaccine, it is geared to those in management positions.

William Dombi headhot
Bill Dombi, president of NAHC

“We can’t accept 50 percent immunization. That just won’t be good enough,” Dombi said.

Agencies currently are not looking to mandate vaccinations. But there is concern that patients will not want to receive care from workers who have not been vaccinated, he said.

The associations’ work dovetails with the efforts of the new administration. President Biden last week signed an executive order that establishes a task force within the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate an equitable pandemic response. As part of the executive order, the secretary will run an outreach campaign to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in communities of color and other underserved populations. He also signed an executive order to set up a national public health job corps aimed at COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and vaccine outreach.