We have worked hard to care for our residents and team members this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As licensed assisted living communities, we are included in the first priority phase for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine from the U.S. government. Assisted living residents and healthcare workers can expect to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks. This is a big step in getting back to the fun we have each day.
Although this pandemic has been difficult for each of our communities, we have also witnessed miracles of recovery and healing. We have learned so much about treating this virus and preventing its spread. We have come together as humanity to care for each other. We want to thank everyone who has worked diligently to keep our residents safe. It has taken everyone on our staff working together as a team: nurses, caregivers, administrative personnel, housekeeping, maintenance, and dining. It has required family and friends to be careful and innovative in connecting to our residents. We know that so many people have sacrificed so much. Thank you.
Now that we finally have access to a vaccine, we know our residents, family members, and staff may have some questions, and we hope that this will answer a few of your concerns.
Is the vaccine available for residents and staff?
Assisted living communities are among the first groups who will be able to receive the vaccine. We hope to administer the vaccine on-site as soon as possible. Please watch for more information coming soon from your community director. Effective communication will be very important during this time.
Will there be a cost for the vaccine?
There should be no cost for the vaccine; however, there may be an administration fee billed to private or public insurance.
How many doses is the vaccine?
The vaccine requires two doses, administered between three and four weeks apart, depending on the manufacturer. When you receive your vaccine, make sure that you schedule your follow-up dose. Only receiving one dose significantly lowers the effectiveness of the vaccine.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
The most common side effects include pain at the injection site and symptoms like fever and chills. The FDA has ruled that the benefits outweigh these potential side effects, especially for high-risk populations such as assisted living residents. To mitigate these effects, individuals can apply a cool compress to the injection site and make sure that they move the arm. Drinking plenty of fluids can help with any fever and chills.
Should I get vaccinated if I have already had COVID-19?
The CDC is not making recommendations at this time for individuals who have previously contracted the virus. Early studies suggest that natural immunity may only last three months. Talk to your primary care physician, who can make a recommendation for your specific situation.
How long will the vaccine be effective?
In short, we don’t know. Like many things surrounding this novel virus, we are going to have to wait and see. But the more people who get vaccinated, the more information scientists have to work with. We will have to be patient and find out the answers together, just like we have done every part of this journey.
Will staff and residents be required to receive the vaccine?
No, although we highly recommend that all staff and residents receive the vaccine. We will work hard to make it available to everyone. We encourage you to consider your health and the health of your loved ones. Please consider which would be worse: side effects from the vaccine or actually contracting the virus? If you have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, or an immunocompromised system, you are at much higher risk for severe complications, including death, if you contract the virus.
Will we have to continue wearing masks and washing hands?
Yes, we recommend that residents and staff continue wearing masks and other preventative measures while we monitor the effectiveness of the vaccine. These sanitization procedures continue to be valuable at any time, and especially during the cold and flu season.
We have all worked so hard to get to this point, making sacrifices along the way to keep those around us safe. Now there is a great responsibility on our residents, families, and staff: Will you get the vaccine? We hope this has provided you with the answers you need to make that decision. If you are still unsure, please continue your research at reliable sources, including the CDC, state, and county health department websites, journals of medicine, lab research, vaccine manufacturers, and most importantly – your doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.
We hope to administer the vaccine on-site as soon as possible. Please watch for more information coming soon from your community director.