Separate Unvaccinated Healthcare Staff From Unvaccinated Patients, Researchers Advise

By Reuters Staff

July 26, 2021

(Reuters) - With COVID-19 vaccination coverage incomplete among residents and staff at long-term care facilities, researchers have come up with a way to limit transmission in those settings: keep unvaccinated staff away from unvaccinated patients.

In a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review, they advise based on their computer models that unvaccinated healthcare workers be assigned to work with vaccinated patients. In that scenario, if a healthcare worker becomes infected but does not realize it and shows up to work, "then the chance of onward spread is significantly reduced ... leading to lower rates in the facility as a whole," said study co-author Joshua Weitz of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Likewise, it is preferable to assign vaccinated healthcare workers to care for unvaccinated patients, his team found. "Unvaccinated residents are at a higher risk of infection, and in the event that a resident becomes infected ... there is a far lower risk of onward transmission" if the people caring for them are vaccinated, Weitz said.

"These facilities have a responsibility to aim to reduce infection rates amidst a public health emergency," Weitz added. "Our analysis reveals that cohorting could help facilities do more to prevent infection control even in the event of partially vaccinated populations."

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2Wgejaz medRxiv, online July 20, 2021.

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