New York had never before released data on what percentage of home health aides have been vaccinated, making it impossible to draw comparisons with the new numbers, which were released Friday.
The numbers came from a Department of Health survey of all licensed home care agencies, which asked them to report their vaccination levels on Thursday. Agencies representing some 245,000 workers responded. They reported that on average, 86 percent of their employees had been partially vaccinated and that 71 percent had been fully vaccinated.
The home health care work force in New York has suffered from sharp shortages that have only been intensified by the pandemic, as has been the case in other states. At the same time, demand for home care has risen as people have tried to keep their loved ones out of nursing homes, in part because of the poor conditions in homes that the pandemic exposed.
Though the loss of workers was not as steep as feared, some industry leaders warned that losing even 5 percent or 10 percent of aides in a field already suffering from a labor shortage could lead to the curtailment or elimination of care for thousands of patients. The losses might also create backlogs of patients at hospitals that typically discharge patients to home care, the leaders said.
Al Cardillo, president of the Home Care Association of New York State, said the percentages alone did not tell the whole story. Even some agencies with high vaccination rates were losing large numbers of employees that would be hard to replace, he said.