Watch Live: Biden to tie vaccines for nursing home staff to federal funds

Washington — President Biden will announce Wednesday he is ordering the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require nursing homes to have vaccinated staff for them to be able to participate in Medicare and Medicaid and receive funding from the federal programs, a White House official confirmed to CBS News. 

The vaccination requirement would be the first time the federal government has implemented any type of vaccination requirement besides those for federal government employees.  

Many nursing homes, which rely heavily on Medicare and Medicaid funding, have not had such requirements, and vaccination rates among staff have varied greatly by facility. Federal health officials have encouraged nursing home staff to participate because of how vulnerable nursing home populations can be, even if vaccinated. 


How to watch Biden discuss COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts

  • What: President Biden gives an update on his administration’s COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts 

  • Date: August 18, 2021

  • Time: 4:30 p.m.

  • Location: White House 

  • Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.


Staff vaccinations lag in many nursing homes 03:35

It is not yet clear what the deadline is for nursing staffs to make the requirement or for staffs to be fully vaccinated in order to continue receiving federal funds. 

The news comes the same day that federal health officials officially recommended booster shots for vaccinated Americans eight months after their second shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. U.S. health officials said the administration will be prepared to begin offering booster shots on September 20. 

“The plan is for the rule to be simple: Get your booster shot eight months after you got your second shot,” Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said during a Wednesday briefing. The plan is still subject to approval by the Food and Drug Administration Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

New data from the CDC released Tuesday warned of a “significant decline” in vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 in nursing home residents, who were vaccinated earliest in the nation’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines. In a study of roughly 15,000 long-term care facilities, the effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines dropped from 74.7% to 53.1% during the spike in Delta variant cases this summer, the CDC found.

Melissa Quinn and Alex Tin contributed to this report.