OSWEGO COUNTY – Getting fully vaccinated – and getting the COVID-19 booster – is as important now as it has ever been with new cases of the virus on the rise and the Omicron variant spreading quickly across the county. This is especially critical for nursing home residents and the staff who care for them.
Residents – or their medical proxy – should speak to a staff member to learn more about the vaccine and its benefits. Those who are eligible and have not yet received their COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose are encouraged to get it now.
The personal care provided in these long-term care settings can create more opportunities for exposure to the virus. As senior citizens and other vulnerable populations have been impacted by COVID-19 more than most groups, a renewed effort has begun to ensure they are better protected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all eligible seniors and residents in long-term care facilities be given the COVID-19 booster; however, the results of that effort have been inconsistent due to a variety of circumstances. Staffing shortages continue to plague the health care industry and there is no longer a partnership in place with pharmacies to administer the COVID-19 vaccine on-site at nursing homes. Instead, many facilities have their own nurses who are now administering the vaccine.
The CDC also said that, while COVID-19 vaccines remain effective in preventing severe disease, their effectiveness can wane over time, especially in people aged 65 years or older. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html) This, combined with the spread of the Omicron variant, demonstrates how important it is for seniors to get the COVID-19 booster dose to increase their immune response to the virus.
On a local level, the Oswego County Health Department reported earlier this week that 21 people were newly hospitalized between Dec. 19 and 25. It’s important to note that nearly 50% of them were 65 years of age or older. In addition – of those 21 patients – over 70% of them were either not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
This reminds residents that the COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses continue to be the best defense against the virus. The Oswego County Health Department encourages everyone who is eligible for the vaccine or the booster dose to get the shot.
To better protect seniors and other vulnerable people, everyone is encouraged to follow other preventative measures such as wearing a face mask in indoor public spaces, staying home when sick, social distancing when possible, frequent handwashing and following quarantine and isolation advice.
For more information, go to the Oswego County Health Department’s COVID-19 page at health.oswegocounty.com/covid-19 or call its COVID-19 Hotline at 315-349-3330.
For information about emotional supports, visit the Oswego County Department of Social Services Division of Mental Hygiene at www.oswegocounty.com/mentalhygiene.
Effective Dec. 13, New York state requires that masks must be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a full-course vaccination requirement. Oswego County government requires that masks be worn inside all county government facilities.
Under New York State Public Health Law, the Oswego County Health Department is the local public health authority regarding the COVID-19 pandemic response within the county of Oswego. The Oswego County Health Department works closely with New York State Department of Health regarding COVID-19 monitoring, response, and reporting.