On December 11, 2020 we received some great news. The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine. An EUA is based on the need to use a vaccine quickly to save lives during an urgent health crisis. In the coming days, Ohio is scheduled to receive about 100,000 doses in the first round of distribution. Through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care, Walgreens will be administering the vaccine to our residents and our team members, in our nursing facilities.
We know that many of you have questions or concerns about taking the vaccine. We will do our best to provide you with information to ease your concerns and make the most informed decision you can. For beginners, let me state the obvious. The third wave, which started at the end of September has been far worse than the previous two waves. Our positivity rate at all of our facilities has been much higher for both residents and team members.
- The COVID-19 Vaccine will help keep you from getting COVID-19; and it will also protect the people around you.
- The Vaccine will be administered in two doses – either 21 or 28 days apart. You MUST receive both doses for the Vaccine to be effective.
- The Vaccine creates an antibody response without having to experience sickness.
- None of the Vaccines currently in development in the U.S. use the live virus.
- It will take a few weeks for the body to build immunity after the Vaccine.
- According to reports 10-15% of people who receive the vaccine will experience mild side effects such as headache, muscle pains, fatigue, chills, and pain at injection site. It is important to note that physicians say side effects are your body’s way of telling you the Vaccine is doing its job – building immunity.
- Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, you are advised to get a Vaccine even if you have previously tested positive for COVID-19.
- Safety is the most important requirement for the Vaccine and is assessed in trials by independent experts.
- Most adverse side effects occur within 6 weeks of vaccine administration and the FDA has required 8 weeks of monitoring so it can track any side effects.
- FDA advises a minimum of 3000 participants to assess safety. The current Phase 3 trials have 30,000 to 50,000 participants. This demonstrates how safety is a top priority for the FDA and the medical community.
We do not know what the future plans are for distributing the Vaccine. We do know that this is our ONE KNOWN chance to get the Vaccine to those most effected by COVID-19 – our team members and residents.
We will continue our practice of wearing PPE at all times. Wearing a mask, social distancing, and practicing hand hygiene protects those who have not been vaccinated.
Walgreens will assign three clinic dates later this month (and in January). The three dates will be arranged to accommodate the clinical requirements for the vaccine’s second dose (which must be administered 21 days after the first dose). The third date will remain tentative as a placeholder, to vaccinate any new admissions or new hires not able to attend the first clinic.
We will take care of registering your loved one to receive the vaccine and provide the pertinent insurance cards; however, we will need either the resident or family member to complete a consent form. As soon as we have the EUA fact sheet and the consent form available, a member of our team will reach out to you to make arrangements to get your consent (which can be done via visiting our Contact Us page).
We can’t underscore how important this Vaccine is in our efforts to re-open our facilities. If we can achieve a high percentage of Vaccination for both our residents and team members, we can begin to look at re-opening other activities such as activities, dining room services, and visitation.
We need your help. Please consider allowing your family member to take the Vaccine and if you are a team member you will also be able to sign up to receive it. It is the only and best way to protect against COVID-19. It is safe and effective; and it will save loves and slow the spread of the virus.