COVID-19 ACTIVITY UPDATE
Frequently Asked Questions – COVID Vaccination
Like all vaccines, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been rigorously tested for safety before being authorized for emergency use in the United States.
mRNA technology is new, but not unknown. This technology has been studied for more than a decade.
mRNA vaccines do not contain a live virus and do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person.
mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.
Q: Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccination?
A: The vaccinations from Pfizer and Moderna are 94-95% effective in building immunity to the COVID-19 virus. If you do get the COVID-19 virus after the vaccination, it will reduce the severity of your illness and reduce your chances of dying from the virus.
Q: When will I be able to get the vaccination?
A: The State Health Departments will distribute the vaccination along with a tiered plan for who gets it first based on many factors including risk, morbidity and prevalence factors. When more vaccinations are available, it will be available for everyone.
Q: Is the vaccine mandatory?
A: No, it is not, but we cannot express how strongly we recommend it for your safety and those around you.
Q: Can the vaccination give me COVID-19?
A: No, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations do not have the virus in them. They cannot give you COVID-19. The vaccine will not cause you to test positive for COVID-19.
Q: Will the COVID-19 vaccination change my DNA?
A: No, it will not do that. It introduces a component of a protein (mRNA) on the SARS-CoV2 virus and tells the body to make immunity that attacks the virus when it identifies it in your body.
Q: How long will I be immune to COVID-19?
A: Not all vaccines cause 100% immunity, you may still get the virus but it the severity of your illness is greatly reduced. The FDA does not currently have information as to how long the vaccination will help prevent your getting COVID-19. They will share more information in the future.
Q: How soon will the vaccination cause me to be immune?
A: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations start building immunity about 2 weeks after the first vaccination and then full immunity about one week after the second dose.
Q: When I get the vaccination, can I stop wearing my mask?
A: Not yet. All COVID-19 measures must remain in place until the CDC gives us guidance to change our practice. Even if you do not get sick from the virus, you may be able to spread it to others if you are in contact with it.
Q: Do I need the COVID-19 vaccination if I have tested positive for COVID-19?
A: Yes, you should still get the vaccination. You may not have enough antibodies built up to prevent you from getting it again. Your natural immunity may not last very long, and the vaccination will help. Depending on vaccine availability, the local health department may have people that have been positive in the last 90 days to wait until more vaccines are available.
Q: What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination?
A: Some people may experience normal vaccination side effects for the first 24 hours. This includes pain or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and fever. The symptoms may be more pronounced after the second shot.
Q: Do I still need my flu shot?
A: Yes, you do. If you have not had the flu vaccination yet, check with your healthcare provider to determine when you should get the influenza vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccination as there should be over 2 weeks between the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Frequently Asked Questions – COVID
Q: Can you review what health authority recommendations, guidelines, and/or requirements you follow across all Communities?
A: To offer an overview, we follow the recommendations, guidelines, mandates, etc. of several different health authorities including, but not limited to each Community’s: state health department, regulatory body, local health department, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you ever have any questions, comments, and/or concerns regarding this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the administrator.
Q: How can I sign up to schedule a visit with my loved one?
A: You can sign up to schedule a visit with your loved one by calling our front desk and speaking with a member of our team. We ask that you call more than 24 hours in advance. Please note that we will check in with you to complete a Visitor Screening less than 24 hours in advance, prior to your visit. Additionally, we complete a Visitor Attestation with you upon arrival. Please note, however, that at certain times, such as with an increased prevalence of COVID-19 in the Community or in the greater Community, the state or local health department may request that visits be placed on a temporary pause. If this occurs, the Community will inform residents and their representatives, if applicable.
Q: How can I sign up to receive family engagement alerts for my loved one?
A: We highly encourage loved ones to sign up for the family engagement alerts for many great reasons. Caremerge, our HIPAA compliant and easy to use communication platform, serves as an especially important and valuable means of communication. We utilize Caremerge Family Engagement for a variety of reasons, including to offer updates as it relates to COVID-19. If you have not signed up for Caremerge communications and/or if you are interested in learning more, I strongly encourage you to reach out to the front desk of the Community where your loved one resides.
Q: I would like to leave the Community to visit with my loved ones during the winter season. Is this possible?
A: During this winter season, we encourage residents and families to consider virtual visits, such as through video, in order to minimize the opportunity for exposure to infectious illnesses such as COVID-19.
Nonetheless, we also understand that nothing compares to an in-person visit with your loved ones. In consideration of the health and wellbeing of all residents in the Community, residents that leave the Community for non-essential reasons may be asked to quarantine upon return. While we cannot change the quarantine guidelines, as they exist for valid safety and wellness reasons, we are committed to always doing all that we can to enhance the experience of our residents. If you do make an informed decision to leave the Community, we ask that you maintain physical distancing, engage in frequent hand hygiene at key moments, and wear your mask.
Q: What are the transportation guidelines for loved ones taking a resident on a medical visit?
A: We recognize that there may be a preference to have your loved ones transport you to medical appointments and/or other outings in place of alternative transport services. If a loved one is transporting you, for your safety and the safety of other residents residing in the Community, we ask that you and your loved one agree to the following enhanced infection prevention measures:
Q: What is Universal Screening?
A: Universal Screening is one of many critical infection prevention measures that we have incorporated into our COVID-19 Response Plan. Universal Screening involves routine screening of residents, employees, and visitors. In summary, for residents, we have incorporated additional components into our Wellness Checks- this includes but is not limited to: vital signs (such as a temperature check and pulse oximetry reading) and monitoring for any signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19 illness. For employees, we conduct a verbal screening upon arrival for their shift that includes questions regarding signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19, possible or confirmed recent exposure to COVID-19, and a temperature check. Lastly, for visitors, we conduct a screening 24 hours or less in advance for all non-essential visits and for essential visits as possible. Moreover, for visitors, we complete a visitor screening that includes similar questions as described above, an attestation to comply with our resident and employee centered infection prevention and control measures; and, lastly, we complete a temperature check.
Q: Are employees, visitors, and residents required to wear masks?
A: On Community property, employees, and visitors alike, must wear facemasks or a special mask (i.e.: a respirator). When we all commit to remaining vigilant with mask use, we are doing our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Residents are asked to wear a mask when in the presence of others and/or while outside of their private apartment unless there is a Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recognized contraindication, such as mask use results in difficulty breathing and/or if a resident cannot tolerate the mask and/or if the resident is unable to remove the mask which can be due to many reasons, including one’s cognitive abilities.
Q: I hear so much about PPE shortages how do I know the employees have what they need to keep themselves and my loved one safe?
A: We identified the need for substantial PPE stockpiles early on. With early due diligence and continued support from Gardant, the Local Health Department and the National Stockpile, we want to assure you that we have everything our employees need to keep themselves and your loved one safe.
Q: Am I still allowed to drop off items at the building?
A: Yes, absolutely! We have protocols in place to safely receive supplies, gifts, drop-offs, etc. If you are planning to drop off any items, we ask that you call to inform us, if possible, so that a member of our team can come retrieve the items upon arrival.
Q: Will we be notified when there is a positive case in the community?
A: Yes, every time there is a newly diagnosed resident or employee a mass notification will be distributed. Residents and employees will receive a hand-delivered letter, and have opportunity for 1:1 conversations. The designated emergency contact for each resident will receive an email announcement. For those that have not provided your email address to the community, please contact the receptionist and provide this so that you can receive timely communication. If you do not have an email address, you will receive a phone call followed by a mailed letter.
In addition, you will be notified when these same persons recover. It is important that you all know that residents and employees are recovering and are no longer at risk of exposing others to COVID-19.
Please know that because of confidentiality, we are very limited in what we will share with you. The content of the letter is the full detail that can be provided. We understand that you are concerned about our employees and residents, and their well-being, and appreciate that you understand everyone’s right to privacy.
Lastly, I would like to direct you to Gardant Management Solution’s website. The website contains data regarding both resident and employee positive cases at each of their managed Communities.
Q: What are the rules for the window visits?
A: Window visits allow our residents and families to see each other without potential exposure. Each community shall communicate Family Window Visits availability and procedures to families and residents. A common area window space will be designated as the “visiting window”.
Residents will remain on the inside of the window and families will remain on the outside of the window. The window shall always remain closed for barrier protection.
Due to the high demand for window visit, a schedule must be maintained by an assigned staff member for the scheduling of window visits, and all visits will closely follow this schedule. Opportunities must be provided for all residents to have window visits. A sample schedule will include 15 minutes to visit and 15 minutes to sanitize the space prior to the next resident’s window visit. Assigned staff are available to assist resident to window at scheduled time and assist with phone use to converse. If the phone used is a Community phone, staff sanitize after use. Sanitation of surfaces at the visiting window will occur after each resident use.
Residents and loved ones shall contact the community to schedule their window visits.
June 2, 2020
On March 10, 2020, our communities implemented restrictions to control and/or prevent the outbreak of COVID-19. This is an important date. Our decisions since this date have been made for the sole purpose of keeping our residents and employees safe. We recognize that over the past 12 weeks, these necessary safety precautions have been difficult and have caused each of you to be separated from your loved ones. Again, we have always placed the health and well-being of our residents and employees first. As we look back, we are confident that the proactive approaches taken, were the right decisions at the right time.
During the past couple of weeks, we have formed a team to develop a plan to begin to slowly lift some of the restrictions that have been imposed. The team, “Reclaim Home” will only make changes when we are prepared to do so and only when we have the resources, equipment, space, and guidelines to do it safely. June 5th will be our “Reclaim Our Home” day in the communities. Our employees and residents will be celebrating the beginning of reclaiming their home.
This will be followed by the first step of our plan, which is modified small group activities, to begin on Monday, June 8th. While adhering to very detailed infection control precautions, each community will hold two small group activities daily, Monday-Friday. Precautions will include wearing of masks, physical distancing, frequent sanitizing of touched surfaces, disposable supplies, etc. A scheduling system will be implemented that provides an equal opportunity for each resident to sign up for groups. As always, in-room activities will be available for those residents who are not comfortable joining in small group activities.
Over the coming weeks, you can expect to receive continued announcements regarding additional modifications to previously implemented restrictions. This will include the re-opening of the beauty salon, manicures, expanded window visits, outdoor visits with family members, and modified small group dining. Again, our plan will be determined by the prevalence of COVID-19, ability to adhere to required infection prevention precautions, direction from the local health department, and state orders. We look forward to the day that we can welcome our families and friends back to the community.
Do not hesitate to reach out should you have any questions. We all have the goal of reclaiming home and providing new opportunities for connection with each other, while keeping our residents and employees safe.