Your Choice. Everyone’s Benefit.
Wearing a mask and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to COVID-19 or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. By choosing to get vaccinated, you are choosing H.O.P.E. (Helping to Overcome the Pandemic for Everyone). Your individual choice gives us the chance to end this pandemic, together.
Below you will find answers from our team of in-house experts to some common questions about the COVID-19 vaccinations based on available information from health agencies (and is subject to change if new details are published). Be sure to check back often for updated information. We hope this information provides helpful references in making your choice to be vaccinated.
Access to the Vaccine
Is Ecumenical Retirement Community offering the vaccine to their staff and residents?
Yes, plans for the roll-out at our campus are underway. According to the government program, staff and residents of long-term care facilities are included in the 1st prioritized group. We have partnered with CVS through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and are working with their local pharmacies to schedule our upcoming clinics. Both current staff and residents will have access to receive the vaccine through these campus clinics—which public health official’s estimate could be as early as January.
Will Independent Living residents be included in these initial vaccination clinics?
We understand Independent Living (IL) residents are anxious to receive vaccinations at the earliest possible time, and we are working to help you achieve that. The information we have been receiving from the Pennsylvania and Maryland health departments centers on the definition of “long-term care” resident and continues to evolve. Right now we have been advised Independent Living is not included under long-term care. Nevertheless, we believe there is ample justification to include ALL Country Meadows and Ecumenical Retirement Community residents under that definition and are proceeding to include them in our requests to CVS Pharmacy for doses of the vaccine. Because it is not our decision, at this point we cannot definitely confirm. Be assured, however, we are doing everything within our ability to advocate for vaccinations for IL residents.
When will 1st and 2nd doses be given at your retirement community campuses?
We are unsure of the dates for the 1st dose, but clinics likely will be in January. Clinics for the 2nd dose will be hosted approximately 21 days after the initial clinic. CVS is still planning all dates based on their availability.
Can I get the vaccination even after the initial CVS campus clinics?
Healthcare workers (which includes all our staff) and residents of long-term care facilities are the 1st priority for this vaccination, but the vaccine’s continued accessibility to this group and the roll-out to others are unclear after the initial distribution on campus. That is why it is critical for all our current staff and residents participate in these upcoming clinics. We don’t know when CVS will be back to campus (if at all). The more staff and residents who get vaccinated in this first set of clinics, the better the chances of protecting our team and customers. We urge everyone to participate now.
Is all staff in every department eligible for the vaccine?
Yes, all co-workers, including those in non-direct care positions, are considered healthcare professionals and qualify within this 1st prioritized group.
Is Ecumenical mandating staff to get vaccinated?
Although we are not mandating the COVID-19 vaccine at this time, we know the higher the herd immunity level we create, the safer our community will be for all who live and work there. We strongly encourage every one of our co-workers to research and understand the benefits of helping to end this pandemic through vaccination.
Will Ecumenical require residents to get vaccinated?
Like our staff, we will provide education and answer any questions they (or their families) have. However, we will not mandate the vaccination at this time. We hope both our staff and residents see this as a necessary alternative to the unfortunate number of seniors who have been impacted during this pandemic. Their vaccination also will hasten the return to normalcy with family visits and socialization.
Do I have to pay for the vaccine?
The U.S. government is covering the cost of the vaccine, but CVS will charge an administration fee for time and services of their staff providing the clinic. This will be charged to the residents’ health insurance.
Will you relax your current safeguards once staff and residents are vaccinated?
While certainly this vaccine brings much hope as yet another tool in fighting the virus, we will continue with our stringent safeguards to help keep residents and staff safe, including use of personal protective equipment (PPE), enhanced disinfection practices and equipment and testing where warranted and as directed by health authorities.
I am a current resident and would like to get vaccinated—what do I do?
We are so glad to hear that—thank you for doing your part to help protect yourself, our staff and other residents. We need you to participate in these upcoming clinics. Your campus team will contact you directly to complete a consent form issued from CVS prior to the clinics so they know exactly how many doses to bring.
Safety of the Vaccine
Is the vaccine really effective?
The vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna are showing 94-95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 during this trial phase.
Can the vaccine give me the virus? (and, what is in the vaccine?)
None of the vaccines contains live or killed viral particles so there is no chance of getting the disease from the vaccines. On the contrary, the goal is to give your body the tools it needs to fight COVID-19 effectively and/or prevent you from getting it at all.
What are the side effects?
Know that during the U.S. trials no significant safety concerns were identified. Short-term side effects are mild to moderate in severity. They may include fever, headaches and muscle aches and occur within the first three days of vaccination. This is because the 1st shot primes the immune system, helping it recognize the virus, and the 2nd shot strengthens the immune response. These side effects are normal and are signs your body is building up immunity.
I am concerned the vaccine causes cancer.
mRNA technology is being used in the vaccine development and already has been successfully used in cancer treatments.
Is there reason to be concerned about the speed at which the vaccine was developed?
No steps are skipped in the safety evaluation process. The development of the vaccine was able to be accelerated due to:
- Emergency government funding availability to start vaccine production prior to trial completion;
- Experts around the world working together on the same problem in an unprecedented way never done before;
- Steps in the process happened simultaneously vs. sequentially.
The COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same safety standards as all vaccines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices which is an independent body of qualified scientific and clinical experts review all the safety data before recommending use
Is there a tracking chip in the vaccine?
A video shared over thousands of times on Facebook makes false claims about the optional microchip that could be contained within the vaccine. The video alleges the microchip “would give officials information on who has and has not been vaccinated” and “track the location of the patient.” These claims are false. There is an optional identification chip that could be part of the syringe’s label which would allow the healthcare provider to confirm the vaccine has not expired. This technology is purely optional, and the U.S. government hasn’t even decided if they’re going to use it.
Should I get the vaccine if I have other underlying conditions (allergies, chronic conditions)?
We advise everyone to discuss the vaccine with their primary care physician if they are unsure of their individual risks.
Should I get it if I already had COVID? I have antibodies.
Although you should wait until the active illness is over, studies have shown antibodies developed by the confirmed virus only last for 90 days. The vaccine is likely to last longer.
Will there be an epi-pen on site if I have a reaction?
Yes. CVS is required to have epi-pens on site for all clinics. Adverse reactions would occur within one hour of vaccination.
If you have additional questions, please email us at Questions@EcumenicalRetirement.org. As more questions are asked and addressed or more details are published, we will add them to these online pages so be sure to check them often.