What We’re Reading: Unvaccinated Seniors at Higher Risk for Hospitalization, Nursing Homes in Crisis; Alzheimer Groups Protest

Unvaccinated older adults are 49 times more likely to be hospitalized after contracting COVID-19; nursing homes are experiencing a major staffing crisis; major Alzheimer groups plan to meet with federal officials and lawmakers to protest the CMS drug proposal.

Unvaccinated Seniors Nearly 50 Times More Likely to Be Hospitalized for COVID-19

According to CDC data, unvaccinated adults aged 65 and older are 49 times more likely to be hospitalized after contracting COVID-19, compared with other seniors who are fully vaccinated and received a booster dose, reported The Washington Post. In a slightly younger age range, unvaccinated adults aged 50 to 64 were still 44 times more likely than those who received a booster shot to be admitted to a hospital. Compared with seniors who have been vaccinated but have not received a booster, those who are unvaccinated are still 17 times more likely to be hospitalized for the virus.

Nursing Home Staffing Shortage Worsens as COVID-19 Cases Rise

Additional CDC data shows that more than 40,000 nursing home residents across the country tested positive for COVID-19, with 988 reported deaths, NPR reported. In the first week of January, cases among staff hit a record of more than 67,000 cases, but began to slowly decline last week. With slow vaccine and booster uptake in these settings on top of increasingly difficult staff-to-resident ratios, many nursing assistants are reporting “moral distress” and burnout and some facilities are limiting admissions or closing wings. For example, despite the 1-to-8 staffing ratio mandate in New Jersey, the state has complaints that a single nursing assistant was caring for more than 50 residents at a time.

Alzheimer Patient Groups Protest Drug Coverage Proposal

In response to CMS announcing it will only cover Alzheimer disease drugs, such as Biogen’s Aduhelm, for Medicare patients enrolled in clinical trials, Alzheimer patient groups are planning publicity and lobbying campaigns to protest, Reuters reported. Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, and UsAgainstAlzheimer’s argue that the proposal severely limits access to treatment and plan to meet with federal officials and lawmakers. Medicare currently has a 30-day comment period open, and will make a final decision by April 11.