The health and safety of our residents and associates is of the utmost importance and our top priority. Currently with the recent approval of two COVID-19 vaccines and distribution plans underway in accordance with federal, state and local guidelines, we know there are many questions. As a community, we care about providing the information you need to be informed on this important health matter. The following is a summary of facts about the vaccines as well as a list of pertinent resources to help educate and ease concerns.
- Advisors to the CDC have recommended that residents and associates of long-term care facilities be among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Our community has enrolled in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program, making us part of the first phase of priority access across the nation. The distribution plans are determined state by state.
- With clinical trials showing a 95% effective rate for the vaccine no matter your race, ethnicity or age, we believe the vaccine is a crucial step toward keeping everyone safe from COVID-19. As part of the group being given priority to receive the vaccine, we have the opportunity to not only protect ourselves but also to lead the way for our families, neighbors, co-workers and the greater community.
- While it isn’t mandatory to receive the vaccine, it is encouraged among both residents and team members in order to help protect ourselves and those around us, and to stop the spread within the community and beyond.
- We are arranging for the vaccine to be administered in-house to residents and staff through a partnership with pharmaceutical providers; the cost can be covered by Medicare or other insurance providers. The COVID-19 vaccination consists of two doses — the second follow-up dose is required at least three weeks later and is necessary for it to be effective. Protection occurs one to two weeks after the second dose.
- Safety is the most important priority in vaccine approval. The FDA typically advises that a minimum of 3,000 participants are included in the clinical trials — the current COVID-19 vaccine trials included 30,000 to 50,000 participants. The safety of the COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be closely monitored by the CDC and the FDA.
- You cannot become infected with COVID-19 from the vaccines, as they are not live-virus vaccines. Instead, the approved vaccines use mRNA technology to instruct cells in the body to make a protein that triggers an immune response to fight the virus if infected in the future.
- For individuals who were previously infected with COVID-19 and/or have positive antibodies, it is still important to get vaccinated. It could give you longer or better protection against the disease and help stop the spread.
- After a COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection. Symptoms like headache, chills, fatigue, muscle pain or fever lasting for a day or two may develop as your immune system responds. This would most likely occur after the second dose, and according to Mayo Clinic, these symptoms are not considered serious or life-threatening.
- After receiving the second dose of the vaccine, the CDC recommends continuing with precautions, such as wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and washing hands frequently, to allow time for experts to learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions. We will most likely not know how long the vaccine will be protective once we receive it, and we many need to have vaccine shots for COVID-19 on a regular basis (similar to the flu shot.)
Moving forward, we will continue to take preventative measures, follow stringent protocols and work diligently to provide the safest environment possible for all residents and associates.