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Everything You Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccinations in Senior Living

During the past two years, you may have worried about placing your loved one in an assisted living community. 

“Is now the right time to move Mom (or Dad) into assisted living? I thought those places were unsafe right now?”

Unfortunately, there has been a misconception, or common fear, that assisted living communities place their residents at a higher risk for contracting COVID — this isn’t true.

Actually, having your loved one being surrounded by conscientious healthcare providers is the safest place they can be during a pandemic. 

This is because healthcare providers and assisted living communities are held to a higher, stricter safety standard than you’d find in any private home. 

Older residents living in assisted living communities are often the very first in line to receive important vaccinations once they become available. So too, are their healthcare workers. In addition, even socially distanced assisted living communities often have more social interaction and connectedness than seniors who live at home alone.

Learn more about COVID vaccinations among senior living communities and how they’ve adapted to maintain a COVID-safe environment for your loved ones.

What’s Changed in Senior Living Since the Pandemic Started

Since the pandemic started over two years ago, senior living communities have been following the CDC’s protocols and best practices to sustain a COVID-free environment.

When the first COVID vaccines became available, high-risk individuals, such as older adults and healthcare providers were the first in line to receive the shot. 

Since the vaccines have been available, diligent senior living communities have ensured that their staff receive COVID vaccinations.

​​Enhanced senior living communities, such as Kensington Place Redwood City, take safety protocols and CDC guidelines very seriously. These safety measures include:

  • Requiring all staff and residents to be vaccinated
  • Fully compliant with the CDC and local health departments recommendations, and usually above requirements
  • Frequent COVID tests for healthcare staff 
  • Staff and team members are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gowns, shoe covers, and protective eyewear
  • Masks are required to be worn at all times (by staff, except for eating and drinking breaks)
  • Practicing social distancing protocols during dining, life enrichment activities, and other shared activities
  • Wearing masks when appropriate (for residents)
  • Signage posted throughout the facilities encouraging hand washing
  • Hosting in-person visitations in safe, designated spaces (and encouraging video chats when possible)
  • Screening visitors (checking their temperature and asking questions regarding travel and related COVID symptoms)
  • Making alcohol-based hand sanitizer widely available throughout the community
  • Using CDC-approved disinfectants, such as Clorox 360, to sanitize the facilities, high-traffic areas, and inside resident apartments 

When an assisted living community takes their responsibilities seriously as we do, then your loved ones couldn’t find a safer environment to be in.

The United States has been using three different COVID vaccines to vaccinate its population — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s/Janssen.

Currently, a “full vaccination” is defined by the CDC as having received the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines and waiting two weeks after the second dose (or first dose for Johnson & Johnson). A booster shot is not required to achieve this full vaccination status, at least not yet.

However, because of a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant, several states are mandating that healthcare workers receive their booster shot by February of 2022. These states include California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and New Mexico.

In California specifically, all healthcare workers and workers in high-risk settings, such as assisted living communities, are required to receive their COVID-19 booster by February 1st, 2022.

Below are the recommended time frames and booster information for each brand of vaccine. 

Pfizer-BioNTech

A full vaccination of Pfizer-BioNTech constitutes a two-dose series, spaced 21 days apart for adults 16 years and older. The full vaccination status is achieved two weeks after the second dosage.

In addition to the two doses, an additional booster shot is recommended five months after the second dose of the two-shot series. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster are both recommended in most situations. In teens 12-17 years old, Pfizer-BioNTech is the only vaccine booster that can be chosen.

Moderna

A full vaccination of Moderna also constitutes a two-dose series, spaced one month apart, starting two weeks after the second shot.

Boosters are recommended five months after the second dose. The Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster may be used.

Johnson & Johnson’s / Janssen

A full vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine starts two weeks after the first shot. This vaccine differs from Pfizer and Moderna, in that it’s a one-dose series.

A booster is recommended starting two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccination. The Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna are the recommended boosters.

Top Questions to Ask a Senior Community About Vaccine and COVID-19 Safety Protocols

During a pandemic, safety should be the highest priority shared among all assisted living communities and healthcare providers.

Before you choose an assisted living community for your loved one, ask the following questions to ensure the community has your loved one’s best interests in mind:

  • What is the COVID-19 vaccination rate in the facility? 
  • What proportions of the staff and residents received their booster shot?
  • Does the community track when residents and staff are due for their booster shots?
  • How often are the staff and residents being screened for symptoms?
  • How often are the staff and residents receiving COVID tests?
  • Is the community strictly following government regulations?
  • What are the visitation policies for seeing a loved one in their community? 
  • Is the staffing level adequate, or are the nursing staff below full level?
  • Are there still social activities and ways of connecting for your loved one to interact with their neighbors?

Kensington Place Redwood City — A COVID-Safe Community for Your Loved Ones

Kensington Place Redwood City is a premier assisted living and memory care community located in San Mateo County, California.

As of April 2021, all of Kensington Place’s residents and employees, have completed their two rounds of COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Besides maintaining a COVID-safe environment, our community continues to provide excellent memory care, particularly for our residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

At Kensington Place Redwood City, we promise to take our responsibilities seriously, because we care for your loved ones as we would our own. That’s our Kensington Promise to you.

We are still accepting new residents to live in our community during this time. Reach out to schedule a virtual tour, or learn more about our COVID-19 response.

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