State-Level Vaccine Mandates Associated With Increased Staff Vaccination Coverage Without Increases in Reported Staffing Shortages

Several states implemented COVID-19 vaccine mandates for nursing home employees, which may have improved vaccine coverage but may have had the unintended consequence of staff departures. McGarry, et al. (2022) sought to assess whether state vaccine mandates for U.S. nursing home employees are associated with staff vaccination rates and reported staff shortages.

This cohort study performed event study analyses using National Healthcare Safety Network data from June 6, 2021, through Nov. 14, 2021. Changes in weekly staff vaccination rates and reported staffing shortages were evaluated for nursing homes in states with mandates after the mandate announcement compared with changes in facilities in non-mandate states. An interaction between the mandates and county political leaning was considered. Data analysis was performed from February to March 2022.

Among 38 study-eligible states, 26 had no COVID-19 vaccine mandate for nursing home employees, 4 had a mandate with a test-out option, and 8 had a mandate with no test-out option. Ten weeks or more after mandate announcement, nursing homes in states with a mandate and no test-out option experienced a 6.9 percentage point (pp) increase in staff vaccination coverage (95% CI, −0.1 to 13.9); nursing homes in mandate states with a test-out option experienced a 3.1 pp increase (95% CI, 0.5 to 5.7) compared with facilities in non-mandate states. No significant increases were detected in the frequency of reported staffing shortages after a mandate announcement in mandate states with or without test-out options. Increases in vaccination rates in states with mandates were larger in Republican-leaning counties (14.3 pp if no test-out option; 4.3 pp with option), and there was no evidence of increased staffing shortages.

The findings of this cohort study suggest that state-level vaccine mandates were associated with increased staff vaccination coverage without increases in reported staffing shortages. Vaccination increases were largest when mandates had no test-out option and were also larger in Republican-leaning counties, which had lower mean baseline vaccination rates. These findings support the use of state mandates for booster doses for nursing home employees because they may improve vaccine coverage, even in areas with greater vaccine hesitancy.

Reference: McGarry BE, et al. Association of State COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates With Staff Vaccination Coverage and Staffing Shortages in US Nursing Homes. JAMA Health Forum. 2022;3(7):e222363. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2022.2363