We are pleased that federal and state officials have prioritized long-term care residents and their caregivers for early COVID-19 vaccinations. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the best ways to protect those living in and receiving care in our communities. The news of a vaccine gives us hope for the next chapter in our fight against this virus.
Ebenezer communities, including Riley Crossing Senior Living, will be among the first to receive the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine within the next week or two.
Details of this plan are being filled in on an hour-by-hour basis. In cooperation with the government’s distribution to pharmacies, we will be administering the very first vaccines to staff and residents in Ebenezer’s skilled care communities. The first vaccine shipment will be delivered to the pharmacy. Each week, 25% of the staff across all departments and 25% of the residents will receive their first dose of the vaccine. A second dose will be scheduled to follow.
We anticipate that we will begin vaccinating staff and residents within our community in early to mid-January. The same process will apply as with the skilled care vaccination administration.
How we will administer vaccine
Our Pharmacy will vaccinate residents – including Independent Living residents who reside in communities that provide Assisted Living services, which is Riley Crossing Senior Living. Our site nurses will vaccinate staff members.
The vaccine will be administered in 2 doses. After receiving the first dose, the recipient must receive a second dose. It is important to get the SAME MANUFACTURED VACCINE as the first dose.
To ensure that we are getting the vaccine to those who need it most, we will not vaccinate staff or residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days. We will vaccinate these individuals at a later date.
We strongly encourage staff and residents to get vaccinated
At this time, we are not requiring that all staff and residents get the vaccine, however, we are strongly encouraging it. Vaccinating a significant majority of staff and residents is the only way we will be able to stop the spread of the virus.
About the vaccine
This vaccine is safe and effective (95% effective). Both the PFIZER and MODERNA vaccine are mRNA vaccines.
- mRNA technology is new in vaccine production but is already being used in cancer treatment. It has been studied for more than ten years.
- COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece that looks like the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus.
- Our bodies recognize that this protein should not be there, so they build antibodies that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.
Potential side effects
As with any vaccine, your body may react to the vaccine as those antibodies are being made. Not everyone will experience this reaction. Below are the most common
- You may experience have short-term discomfort: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and pain at injection site after vaccination
- These reactions will last for 24-48 hours and are typically more pronounced after the second dose
- Side effects mean your body is doing its job and making antibodies (IT IS A GOOD THING)
- These are normal, common and expected
- If your Doctor has told you it is OK, you can take Tylenol or Ibuprofen prior to receiving the vaccine as well as for the first few days following receiving to minimize such reactions.
When will I be protected? How long will I be immune?
- Most of the vaccines are 2 doses
- Protection occurs 1-2 weeks after the second dose
We will most likely not know how long the vaccine will be protective once we receive it. We will know more as more time passes in the current research. It is possible we may need to have vaccine shots for COVID-19 on a regular basis (like the flu shot).
Will we still need to wear face masks?
Similar to other types of vaccines, a large number of people in the community will need to get vaccinated before transmission drops enough to stop the use of masks.
Is the vaccine safe?
- Safety is the most important priority in vaccine approval
- Everyone receiving the vaccine will be monitored following receiving it
- Monitoring for safety will continue as the vaccine is distributed to the public
- To assess safety FDA typically advises that a minimum of 3,000 participants are included in the trial. The current COVID-19 vaccine trials include 30,000 to 50,000 participants
- The FDA is using the same strict standards that it has for decades
- No steps are “skipped”
- The FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for use
Can Ebenezer residents and staff give consent or decline the vaccine?
Our residents and staff will be asked about their interest in receiving the vaccination and will be asked to sign a consent at some point prior to the vaccination being administered. If they choose to decline, they will be asked to sign a declination. The declination is not binding. Those within our community can receive the vaccine later, if they change their minds.
It is important to get information from reliable sources (CDC, AMDA, medical directors, medical providers, etc.). Here are some link to information:
CDC: About COVID-19 vaccines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/about-vaccines.html
CDC: Provider Resources for COVID-19 Vaccine Conversations with Patients and Answering Patients’ Questions: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/covid-conversations/
Leading Age Minnesota https://www.leadingagemn.org/assets/docs/COVID_19_Vaccine_Questions_(2).pdf