The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our daily lives. Nowhere is that more evident than in senior living communities. At Retirement Center Management, we have been diligent in our efforts to safeguard our residents, team members, and families.
The FDA has authorized the use of a COVID-19 vaccine
With the FDA’s recent authorization of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, Retirement Center Management communities will be a part of a government effort to provide vaccines to our assisted living residents and staff. We continue to exhaust all efforts in order to maintain the safest environment for our seniors. We will honor that promise by encouraging all team members and residents to participate in the vaccine’s first wave of distribution. This will truly be an historic moment, not only for our seniors and our country, but for the entire world.
Assisted Living residents are at an advantage
COVID-19 has created heightened anxiety and stress for seniors and their families. The safety protocols and infectious disease mitigation strategies utilized in senior housing make senior living communities one of the safest environments for families.
In addition to health, nutrition and socialization benefits, our residents are a part of the first group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For many seniors and their families, this is a true game changer and a good reason to strongly consider a move to a senior living community in the near future. As we battle the virus, senior living communities will continue to be a top priority in how our government and healthcare leaders fight the virus. In addition, by vaccinating caregivers and support teams, continuing our safety protocols to include the use of personal protective equipment, testing as directed by local health authorities and enhanced cleaning protocols, we have created the safest living option for seniors.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many questions regarding the approved vaccine. Here is a quick snapshot of frequently asked questions and answers.
What is the process for getting a vaccine developed and tested?
In order to get a vaccine approved for human use, there are multiple stages that have certain goals measuring the efficacy and safety. With a total of four stages, the vaccine requires meeting extremely safe criteria before continuing to each stage. After stage three, the vaccine is approved for use. After approval for use, testing begins. The test stage involves testing tens of thousands of people across multiple demographics including a variety of age and racial groups. In addition, test subjects are monitored for any potential side effects. If there are no side effects that are significant, the vaccine is considered safe to utilize.
Are there certain requirements the COVID-19 vaccine needs to meet for FDA approval?
Yes! A vaccine must be at 50% efficacy. The first 2 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have shown to be 94% and 95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19. The FDA also requires eight weeks of data regarding safety of usage.
Is the COVID-19 Vaccine safe?
The number one priority when it comes to developing a new vaccine, or any medication for that matter, is safety. With trials being assessed by independent experts, most unfavorable side effects occur within six weeks of administering a vaccine where the FDA requires an eight week minimum to allow time to monitor for safety and any type of side effect. The trials conducted for the COVID-19 vaccine included 30,000 to 50,000 individuals that participated in receiving the vaccine. With the FDA’s 3,000 participant minimum, the trial truly demonstrates how over and beyond the nation and medical community has gone to ensure there is a safe rollout of the vaccine.
Who is assessing the safety and efficacy of the vaccine?
There are two independent advisory boards that evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. So, there is no bias or favoritism in regards to financial or political gain. The two committees are The Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) and The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Committee members are professionals from various academic institutions who are cleared of any conflict of interest in order to evaluate the data that determines safety, efficacy, and distribution.
Does the vaccine contain a live virus?
There is no proposed COVID-19 vaccine that contains live or killed viral particles. The vaccine that has been approved and those that are still in the approval process cannot give you COVID-19. The goal of the vaccine is to provide the body what it needs in order to fight the virus as well as prevent you from getting it altogether.
Do I still need to wear a mask after I get vaccinated?
Yes. Medical experts are still advising you take all the same precautions of appropriate hygiene, social distancing, and use of personal protective equipment. Upon getting the vaccine, the person receiving the vaccine is not immediately protected. As part of safely rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine, it is broken out into two doses. There is still more research to be done of how long the vaccine will protect an individual. Some experts are saying the COVID-19 vaccine will be similar to the annual flu vaccine that may call for vaccinations on a regular basis.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
The clinical trials have shown the vaccine can cause brief discomfort such as headache, muscle aches, tiredness, chills, fever, and aching at injection site in a proportion of individuals who received the vaccine. Participants of the trials stated the discomfort expired after a day, if not sooner.
You might experience pronounced discomfort when receiving the second round of the vaccine which is normal. These potential side effects mean that your body’s immune system is reacting to the vaccine and creating antibodies to fight off COVID-19.
What Comes Next?
Retirement Center Management communities will be receiving the vaccine with our long-standing partnership with CVS. As we hold our vaccine clinics for our residents and team members, our highly trained care teams will be closely monitoring residents to ensure they are comfortable and to mitigate any potential side effects.
Retirement Center Management CEO – Jim Gray, President – David Keaton, COO – Kendra Lawson, and Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations – Gwen Wilburn are all receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a true testament of the company’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of its residents and team members.
There will eventually be several different vaccines to combat COVID-19. We can expect recommendations to be updated as new vaccines are approved and distributed. As with the virus itself, we will continue to learn more with time and additional data.
It is always important to get quality information from reliable sources. Be sure to ask your primary physician for any other additional detail on vaccinations. We are pleased and encouraged by the information provided by the FDA, the advisory boards, and the CDC regarding the approved vaccine.
Our communities will become one of the safest places in the world as the vaccine continues to be distributed early in the first phase. Our residents, family members, and team members are all excited in making this a reality very soon!
Additional Resources from the CDC:
CDC: About COVID-19 vaccines
CDC: Provider Resources for COVID-19 Vaccine Conversations with Patients and Answering Patients’ Questions
CDC: Understanding the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program and Frequently Asked Questions
CDPH: COVID-19 Vaccine Planning Questions and Answers
Credit: The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine