Genesis HealthCare, the largest nursing home company in the United States with 357 facilities across 26 states, has announced it is adopting a universal COVID-19 vaccination requirement for employees, care partners, and onsite vendors across the company. 
Due to age, underlying conditions, or both, nursing home patients and residents are at greater risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19, experts say. This threat can be reduced significantly through universal COVID-19 vaccination. The company’s Universal Vaccination Policy requires current staff, visiting providers, care partners, and onsite vendors to have a single dose of the Janssen vaccine or the first dose of a two-dose mRNA vaccine by Aug. 23, 2021. If applicable, the second mRNA dose would be needed by Sept. 22, 2021.
“Our highest priority is for every Genesis-affiliated center across the country to have a relentless focus on serving our patients and residents with high-quality care, in safety, security and comfort, and with respect and dignity,” said Harry Wilson, chief executive officer (CEO) of Genesis.

He said the move to adopt universal vaccination was a critical decision, arrived at only after the company’s leaders seriously weighed the competing concerns.

“Despite vaccination rates above the national average, the growing spread of the Delta variant makes clear that we need to increase our vaccination rates substantially to better protect our patients, residents, and employees,” Wilson said. “While we would have greatly preferred a strictly voluntary process, our commitment to health and safety outweighs concerns about imposing a requirement.

“Universal COVID-19 vaccination provides the safest and most effective course of action to ensure the health and welfare of our patients, residents, and staff,” Wilson said.

The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, the fifth-largest nursing facility company in the United States and a part of Sanford Health, also recently announced that the COVID-19 vaccine will be required for all employees at its locations across 22 states.

“The virus is still a very real threat,” said Randy Bury, Good Samaritan president and CEO. “Our nation’s seniors and the health care heroes working on the front lines who care for them have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and this vaccine is our way out. It’s saving lives.”

Unvaccinated Good Samaritan employees are encouraged to get their shots as soon as possible but must report them by Nov. 1.