With the recent approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and Moderna nearing emergency approval by the FDA, Heritage Communities is mobilized and prepared for a vaccine rollout at all of our communities. While individual states are working on specific rollout timelines, we realize many questions are starting to circulate around the vaccine, as it relates to residents in our communities. As this is a fluid situation with moving targets, please understand that information, dates and overall processes may require swift adjustments as more details unfold.
Operation Warp Speed
Operation Warp Speed is a public–private partnership initiated by the U.S. Government to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. The goal of OWS is to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021. Once OWS has been activated, this military operation is instructed to move as safely and quickly as possible to deliver everything on-site within two weeks for the first dose.
Once the vaccines are approved at the federal level, each state has to approve the vaccine and create their own rollout plan. In preparation, our communities are actively working to complete consent forms with residents, families and physicians. Early indications from DHHS point to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities taking priority. It will be up to each state to determine whether or not assisted living communities and their campuses will be included in this first wave. While this vaccination is free to all, Medicare and other insurance providers will be absorbing the cost of the administration of the vaccination, therefore paperwork will need to be submitted to each resident’s insurance provider. Communities are required us to submit all consent forms five (5) days prior to the administration of the first dose of the vaccine. We are working closely with our assigned pharmacies to ensure all associates and residents who wish to receive a vaccination, are able to get theirs.
Pfizer and Moderna
Pfizer’s vaccine is a two-dose process and the doses must be given 21 days apart. Moderna’s vaccine is also given in two doses and must be given 28 days apart. All communities have been assigned to a specific pharmacy by OWS that is unable to be changed. The matched pharmacy will be notifying each community when they will arrive to dispense the vaccination. While we do not have control over the time or date this will happen, pharmacy teams have indicated the earliest start date would be December 28th for some communities. We understand that our designated time may not be convenient for all residents or staff members. Thank you in advance for your patience and flexibility during this once in a lifetime contribution to the overall health of our country.
Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a series of two vaccinations to be considered complete. For the first wave of vaccinations, we are planning three separate clinic days to give enough time between inoculations. If approvals and timelines occur as expected, we anticipate some communities holding their first clinic around December 28th, with the second occurring 21 or 28 days later (+/- 3 days), depending on the pharmaceutical used. The third clinic will occur 21 or 28 days following the second clinic.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I required to get the vaccine?
Neither residents nor associates are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. We do, however, strongly encourage everyone working at and living in our community to consider the risks to themselves, as well as others, of not receiving the vaccine. Heritage United was a mission born at the onset of the pandemic, asking all residents, family members and associates to come together for the benefit of those most vulnerable. Your decision matters, and may impact those around you.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
The most common solicited adverse reactions were mild to moderate and included: injection site reactions, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever.
Does the vaccine contain a live virus?
This type of vaccine is considered a mRNA, which means it does not contain a live virus. You will not contract COVID-19 from the vaccine.
How long does the vaccine last?
At this time, it is unknown how long the vaccine lasts. Studies are indicating the vaccine could be similar to the flu vaccine needing to be completed every year.
If I have COVID-19 currently, or have had it in the past three months, do I need to take the vaccine?
We are still waiting to hear more information on these individuals. Early indications suggest those who have COVID-19 currently, or have had the virus in the past 90 days, may not be included in the first round of vaccinations. This allows priority access to others who have not had/developed antibodies due to limited supply.
If we miss the initial two clinics, will there be other opportunities for vaccines?
We anticipate having more access to vaccines in the near future, however the timeline and quantity are unknown. That said, Janssen (owned by Johnson & Johnson) and AstraZeneca both are working on single dose vaccinations that only require refrigeration, rather than freezing temperatures, for storage. We anticipate these will be coming to healthcare workers and senior living residents around February. The general public may see opportunities to get their vaccine in the spring of 2021.
How can I get more information?
As always, please reach out to the Executive Director or Director of Healthcare in your community. They will cascade information as soon as possible. Please understand that things may change rapidly, and there may be minimal notice between a communication and a change of protocol or direction. We will continue our commitment to transparency throughout this next stage of the pandemic.
One additional note of encouragement is the Monoclonal Antibody Project. The State of Nebraska was issues 1,000 doses of the Monoclonal Antibody infusion for those testing positive for COVID-19. If a resident or associate is positive, exhibits mild to moderate symptoms, and meets criteria to receive, our communities will work with the individual, their physician and the Infection Control Assessment and Promotion program (ICAP) at UNMC to get them in line for the antibody infusion. This two-hour process includes one hour of infusion and one hour of monitoring in a hospital setting or through the assistance of home health. We are excited to have another option to help residents and associates get through the COVID illness.
Thank you for your support during this pandemic. Your trust, understanding and flexibility will be the key to keeping our residents safe. We are proud to be Heritage United, walking alongside you as we take this next step together.