BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – 10,821 people in Louisiana have lost their lives COVID-19. Nursing home residents were among those hit hardest by the virus.

Vaccination continues to be the best tool to fight against COVID. Data shows that Louisiana nursing home staff are the lowest in the country to be vaccinated, according to AARP.

“We just learned is that last state in the nation when it comes to nursing home staff being vaccinated,” said Denise Bottcher, State Director AARP Louisiana.

Bottcher said only 41% of staff inside Louisiana nursing homes are vaccinated, well below heard immunity.

“That leaves our nursing home residents unprotected aginst this delta variant that is spreading across the south and certainly in Louisiana,” Bottcher said.

Staff shortages are nothing new according to Bottcher. In the state of Louisiana, nursing staff are not required to get vaccinated. If staff become sick with COVID, it could leave many facilities struggling to take care of your loved ones.

“You’re setting yourself up when you have this lack of staff, coupled with the shortage of vaccination among staff, that creates a recipe for disaster,” Bottcher said.

The average vaccination of residents across the state sits around almost 80%, according to AARP. Sterling Place Nursing Home in Baton Rouge reported to the state that 68% of its residents are fully vaccinated. This week, they reported two of the residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

“That’s of a concern,” Bottcher said. “And families who have a loved one in a nursing home or if you have a loved one in a nursing home, you should absolutely find out who all or what the numbers are percentages of who have been vaccinated in the nursing home.

She believes vaccination is key to keeping everyone safe.

“I think that it is important for staff who are working in nursing homes to reconsider getting the vaccination,” Bottcher said.

We reached out to the Louisiana Department of Health and they point out that the nursing homes have among the highest rates of vaccination of any population in Louisiana.