An unvaccinated health care worker brought COVID-19 into an Eastern Kentucky nursing home, propagating an outbreak that infected dozens of vaccinated and unvaccinated residents last month, a new study confirms.
Gov. Andy Beshear and Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack first announced the outbreak in March, which ultimately infected 26 residents, 20 staff and killed three people, including one resident who was fully vaccinated and two who were not.
In that facility, which hasn’t been publicly named by state officials, roughly half of the staff population chose to get the vaccine. A new report published Wednesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that an infected, symptomatic staff member brought a more transmissible COVID-19 variant into the facility that set off the outbreak.
In this nursing home at that time, more than 90% of the 83 residents had received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, compared with only 53% of the 116 health care personnel, the study found. And of the 26 residents who tested positive, 18 were fully vaccinated, while four of the 20 staff who became infected were fully vaccinated. Six residents were hospitalized, including two who were vaccinated.
Still, though they tested positive, vaccinated people “were significantly less likely to experience symptoms or require hospitalization,” authors of the study wrote. Unvaccinated residents and staff were at least three times more likely to become infected. People with two doses of the vaccine, even when they did test positive, were 87% less likely to show symptoms, compared to those without a vaccine, which “demonstrates a strong protective effect of vaccination,” they said.