News of approved vaccines for COVID-19 has been received with relief and anticipation by all age groups, especially older adults. Questions about its distribution abound. The CDC has provided recommendations based on the counsel of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent panel of medical and public health experts.
It’s important to know that our senior living industry fought hard to ensure that our residents and staff be given priority status—so that a vaccine for seniors would have a sense of urgency.
The recommendations regarding a vaccine for seniors as well as other groups were made with these goals in mind:
- Decrease death and serious disease as much as possible.
- Preserve the functioning of society.
- Reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities.
In December 2020, CDC recommended that initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccine be allocated to healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents.
- Healthcare personnel: Healthcare personnel continue to be on the front line in the fight against this deadly pandemic. Healthcare personnel’s race and ethnicity, underlying health conditions, occupation type, and job setting can contribute to their risk of acquiring COVID-19 and experiencing severe outcomes, including death. By providing critical care to those who are or might be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, healthcare personnel have a high risk of being exposed to and getting sick with COVID-19.
- Long-term care facility (LTCF) residents: Having a safe vaccine for seniors in these settings is vital. All COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different races, ethnicities, and ages, including adults over the age of 65. There were no serious safety concerns. The most common side effects were pain at the injection site and signs and symptoms like fever and chills.
The next phases of vaccine distribution are as follows:
- Frontline essential workers such as firefighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector (teachers, support staff, and daycare workers).
- People aged 75 years and older because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. People aged 75 years and older who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1a.
The next phase of distribution:
- People aged 65—74 years because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. People aged 65—74 years who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1a.
- People aged 16—64 years with underlying medical conditions which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19.
Other essential workers, such as people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health.
As vaccine availability increases, vaccination recommendations will expand to include more groups. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as large quantities of vaccines are available. As vaccine supply increases but remains limited, ACIP will expand the groups recommended for vaccination. Two vaccinations will eventually be required.
A vaccine for seniors is wonderful news—but we must all remain vigilant with safety precautions including wearing a mask, socially distancing and washing hands frequently.
The Gables of Brighton Vaccination Plan
The health and well-being of our residents, staff, and their families is always our first concern at The Gables of Brighton. A plan for the rollout of vaccinations is underway, which involves finalizing a partnership with CVS Pharmacy to arrange clinics at our community for residents to receive the vaccination.