Fewer hospital staff in quarantine since healthcare workers started receiving COVID-19 vaccine


INDIANAPOLIS — Some Indiana hospitals are noticing an improvement in staffing levels since COVID-19 vaccinations began in mid-December.

Healthcare workers were the first to get doses in the state, and many have received their second dose already. A little more than a month after vaccine doses arrived in Indiana, hospitals are now finding fewer staff in quarantine.

On December 30, 76 employees at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis were quarantined. On January 27, 36 employees were quarantined.

“It is very tempting to draw a straight line there,” said Dr. Amy B. Kressel, medical director of infection prevention at Eskenazi Health.

Dr. Kressel believes vaccines are playing some role in staffing levels, but she said it is hard to say how much. As a smaller number of staff were in quarantine from late December to the end of January, the average number of cases went down in Marion County. That trend in cases began around January 10 in the county.

“Prior to this, it has been mirroring what has been going on in the community. So when rates are high in Indianapolis and Indiana, we have had more people on sick leave,” she said.

Over at Indiana University Health, the network said about 1,000 team members were in quarantine daily in mid-December. On Monday, just 320 were quarantined for COVID-19. That is almost a 70% drop in a month and a half.

“We are pretty sure since they were the first population to get vaccinated that we can describe that to vaccines,” said Dr. Paul Calkins, associate chief medical executive at IU Health.

As fewer staff members stay in quarantine, fewer patients are also ending up in the hospital for COVID-19. Hospitalizations are declining in the state, according to Indiana State Department of Health data. It is some hope after a challenging year.

“We do need people to get vaccinated though. The vaccine won’t work if people do not take it,” said Dr. Kressel.

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