Here's what to know about vaccination rates at Siskiyou County's only nursing home

Michele Chandler Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald
A state mandate issued Aug. 5, 2021, requires health care workers, including those working at nursing homes, to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Sept. 30.

Siskiyou County's only nursing home, Shasta View Estates in Weed, reported that 56.9% of its current health care personnel are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control earlier this month.

That's close to the national average of 60%, according to the CDC.

The vaccination rate among residents at Shasta View is 84.8%.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced new efforts to use federal funding and enforcement powers to increase vaccination rates among nursing home staff. The administration said nursing homes must vaccinate their staffs against COVID-19 if they want to continue receiving federal funding.

More: South Siskiyou school administrators talk vaccine mandate

More:Here's where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine in Siskiyou County without an appointment

The head of an association that represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and other care centers said Biden should not single out one provider group.

“Vaccination mandates for health care personnel should be applied to all health care settings,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. “Without this, nursing homes face a disastrous workforce challenge.”

The directive to nursing homes is not immediate. The Department of Health and Human Services will have to write regulations to require vaccinations as a condition of receiving reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid. 

State order requires vaccines for health care workers by Sept. 30

A state order announced on Aug. 5 requires California health care workers – including those employed at nursing homes – to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Tomás J. Aragón, M.D., the state’s public health officer, gave workers until Sept. 30 to meet the new requirement, with few exceptions.

More:How many people live in Siskiyou County after the 2020 Census count?

Aragón's order is more stringent than Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement in late July requiring health care workers at hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices, clinics and other medical facilities to either be vaccinated or receive weekly COVID-19 testing. Aragón's order requires testing twice weekly for unvaccinated workers who work in long-term care settings and have received exemptions from being vaccinated for COVID-19.

Yreka VA Clinic licensed vocational nurse Shannon Jones said she knows 10 health care workers in Siskiyou County who are planning to retire early, quit, or get fired as the COVID mandate is ushered in. Jones said she's heard that those people, none of whom work in a nursing home, are "not yet comfortable getting the vaccine."

"Everyone is basically holding out until the last second ...  Hoping, praying and trying to keep the faith that something will change before the deadlines," Jones wrote in an email. 

Vaccines in Siskiyou County

Siskiyou County is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 170 active cases in the county and a total of 40 deaths since the start of the pandemic, the public health department reported.

Just over 17,000 Siskiyou County residents are fully vaccinated, Siskiyou County reported on Aug. 18, or 38.7% of the population. More than 44% of the population has received at least one dose.

Redding Record Searchlight reporter Michele Chandler covers city government and housing issues for the Redding Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. Follow her on Twitter at @MChandler_RS, call her at 530-225-8344 or email her at michele.chandler@redding.com.

USA Today's Maureen Groppe contributed to this story.

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation, lifelong Siskiyou County resident.