Prioritize Infection Prevention Even After the COVID-19 Vaccine

By Caralyn Davis, Staff Writer - January 13, 2021

Nursing home staff members, like everyone in the United States and across the globe, want to go back to “normal.” However, directors of nursing services (DNSs) need to ensure that infection prevention and control remains a priority both in the short term as COVID-19 vaccinations occur and in the long-term as the public health emergency eventually ends. Steps that DNSs can take to further these objectives include the following:

 

In the near term

All providers are excited and grateful that COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out to residents and staff, says Linda Behan, RN, BSN, CWCN, CIC, senior director of infection prevention and control at Genesis HealthCare in Kennett Square, PA. “However, the vaccine isn’t the be-all and end-all. Taking the vaccine doesn’t mean that everything is automatically all better.”

 

Nursing homes will have to remain vigilant and continue with the same infection prevention and control practices that they have had in place throughout the pandemic, says Behan. “Whether it’s surveillance, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, or testing protocols—all of that needs to continue for a while. The COVID-19 vaccine will not provide immediate protection, and we need to see how the prevalence goes down in each nursing home’s local community. So, there is still a ways to go.”