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'They're the most vulnerable' | AARP concerned for seniors with low rates of COVID-19 vaccination among nursing home staff

As the delta variant spreads, the AARP says more nursing home workers need to take the vaccine.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Staff at nursing homes in North and South Carolina continue to lag behind the national average when it comes to vaccinations.

Just 51% and 49% percent of nursing home staff in North and South Carolina respectively are fully vaccinated, according to a new COVID-19 dashboard from the AARP which is analyzing vaccination rates in nursing homes.

“We find that a little troubling given the delta variant,” said Joseph Meyers, the Associate State Director of Communications for the South Carolina chapter of the AARP.

RELATED: Unvaccinated staff eyed in rising nursing home COVID cases, deaths

According to the AARP, nursing home residents are getting vaccinated in higher numbers but the staff have seen their numbers remain stagnant.

In recent weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported cases of hospitalizations and deaths in nursing and assisted living facilities have started creeping back up. The CDC is investigating the vaccination rates and prevalence of the delta variant within those congregate care facilities.

Health officials with DHEC now believe the delta variant accounts for the majority of COVID cases in the state of South Carolina.
Meyers said he worries lower vaccination rates among nursing home staff could lead to more deadly outbreaks among the staff and the residents.

RELATED: Vaccine use leads to ‘dramatic decline’ in cases, deaths at nursing homes, DHEC says

“They’re the most vulnerable,” Meyers said. “They can’t escape.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 184,000 residents and staff died from COVID-19 in U.S. nursing homes and care facilities.

“This is a national tragedy that can’t be allowed to repeat,” Meyers said.

The complete AARP nursing home COVID dashboard is available here.

Contact Tanya Mendis at tmendis@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.