Vaccination Has Begun at Ebenezer Communities

We are pleased that federal and state officials have prioritized long-term care residents and their caregivers for 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. This gives us hope for the next chapter in our fight against this virus.

Ebenezer communities have been among the first to receive the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine.

In cooperation with the government’s distribution to pharmacies, we have begun administering the very first vaccines to staff and residents in our skilled care communities, and now have started to vaccinate residents and staff at our assisted living communities, like Cherrywood Pointe.

How we will administer vaccine

Our Pharmacy will vaccinate residents – including Independent Living residents who reside in communities that provide Assisted Living services. 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

As part of our continuing effort to provide up-to-date information, we have included the latest information from the CDC along with links to their website.

  • There are two COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized and recommended for use in the United States, and three other vaccines are currently in large-scale clinical trials. To learn more about the different vaccines for COVID-19 and how vaccines work, click here.
  • 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 teach our cells how to make a piece of a protein to trigger an immune response and build immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. mRNA does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA, and the cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA as soon as it is finished using these instructions. Learn about mRNA vaccines and how they work, by clicking here.
  • None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States uses the live virus that causes COVID-19. You may have symptoms like a fever after you get a vaccine. This is normal and a sign that your immune system is learning how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about the facts behind COVID-19 vaccines, by clicking here.

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).

How many people need to get a COVID- 19 vaccine for herd immunity?

Herd immunity means that enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they’ve already had the disease or they’ve been vaccinated. Herd immunity makes it hard for the disease to spread from person to person, and it even protects those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns.

While experts don’t yet know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, vaccination is a safer way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19. Have a question about COVID-19 vaccines? Click here.

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.

Questions?

It is important to get information from reliable sources (CDC, AMDA, medical directors, medical providers, etc.). Here are some links to information:

Link: CDC Vaccines & Immunizations

Link: CDC:  About COVID-19 Vaccines

Link: CDC: Provider Resources for COVID-19 Vaccine Conversations with Patients and Answering Patients’ Questions

Link: Leading Age Minnesota