The recent news of a COVID-19 vaccine has given us a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel – a sign of hope that we can start to put this pandemic behind us. Although we do not have all the answers for you, we wanted to share what we know today. There is a lot of information out there and new updates are being provided very frequently. We kindly ask for your patience as details and answers become available.
We will share information from the Department of Health and the CDC with you regarding the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. We’ve included some common questions you may have, with links to information that is available today. Please reach out to me if you have any additional questions, and I will do my best to answer them based on information and guidance that has been provided by public health officials.
What can you tell me today about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout at Weinberg Campus?
We are closely following developments and updates regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and its distribution. You can count on us to deliver accurate information in our weekly communications from credible sources, such as the CDC, the Department of Health, and LeadingAge.
How do I know what information about the vaccine is accurate?
The CDC offers guidance on how to find credible vaccine information to ensure you are receiving the facts and avoiding misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Is the vaccine safe?
The CDC has worked diligently to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. while federal partners work to make a COVID-19 vaccine available. Through the work of extensive clinical trials, vaccine safety monitoring, expanded safety monitoring systems, and existing safety monitor systems, the CDC is taking every precaution before the vaccine is considered safe for use. Read more about the measures the CDC and FDA are taking to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for public consumption.
What can you tell us about the vaccine's effectiveness?
According to the CDC, before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines whether to approve a vaccine or authorize a vaccine for emergency use, clinical trials are conducted to determine how well it works. This is known as effectiveness. After FDA approves a vaccine or authorizes a vaccine for emergency use, it continues to be studied to determine how well it works under real-world conditions. CDC and other federal partners will be assessing COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness under real-world conditions. Click here to learn more about the steps being taken to assess the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Why should my loved one receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
While the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory for our residents, we certainly encourage everyone to receive it. We understand this is a brand-new vaccine, and everything that should be done to ensure its safety is in motion. We are learning new facts and information about this vaccine every day, and from what we’ve seen so far, data has shown it to be effective. The CDC provides facts about the COVID-19 vaccine, which you can read more about here:
- COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19
- COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests
- People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated
- Getting vaccinated can help prevent getting sick with COVID-19
- Receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA
Who at the state is deciding how doses are distributed and how many doses will Weinberg Campus get? Will it be an adequate supply for our staff and residents?
The CDC states that there will be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines in December 2020, but supply will continually increase in the weeks and months that follow.
Per the CDC, due to a limited supply, some groups will be recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccine first. Healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents should be offered COVID-19 vaccination in the initial phase of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program while there is limited vaccine supply. CDC officially made this recommendation on December 2, 2020, based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). You can read more about New York’s COVID-19 vaccination plan here.
Per Governor Cuomo’s press conference on Dec. 9, the vaccine will be allocated by region, which means Western New York will receive approximately 14,500 doses of the vaccine. We know that vaccine distribution is based on state population. Nursing home staff and residents are in the first wave for vaccine distribution, with high-risk hospital workers in the second wave. The third wave will consist of congregate care staff and residents. We will keep you updated on what this means for Weinberg Campus as we learn more.
When will Weinberg Campus receive their supply? When will you start administering the vaccine?
As of today, we do not know an exact date for when the COVID-19 vaccine will be available. Under the current administration, the goal is that we will receive our first supply by the end of 2020. The DOH expects to receive an initial delivery of 170,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and anticipates the possibility of starting to vaccinate the first group of New Yorkers by December 15, if all safety and effectiveness approvals are granted.
LeadingAge reported that the FDA is meeting at the end of this week regarding clinical trials, and an Emergency Use Authorization could be issued this Saturday. LTCFs, depending on the state, could potentially receive the vaccine around Dec. 21.
We acknowledge that we must be ready operationally once the vaccine is available, which we expect to happen swiftly. We are putting the appropriate procedures in place now so we are prepared once this happens.
Knowing that the vaccine is administered in up to two doses, what tracking mechanism does Weinberg Campus need to put in place to ensure appropriate administration of the vaccine?
Weinberg Campus will be participating in a Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program, a federal program led by the CDC in partnership with CVS and Walgreens, to distribute and administer the COVID-19 vaccine to staff and residents on campus. This program provides end-to-end management of the COVID-19 vaccination process, including cold chain management, on-site vaccinations, and fulfillment of reporting requirements, to facilitate safe vaccination of our staff and patient populations. As we learn more about our participation in this partnership, we will plan accordingly to ensure that a Weinberg Campus staff member is assigned as a liaison to our pharmacy partner, keeping track of all COVID-19 vaccine doses and monitoring of each resident. Learn More about this federal program.
Does Weinberg Campus have the right protocols in place to monitor patient reactions and side effects to the vaccine?
As we learn more about our participation in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program, we will better understand our pharmacy partner’s process for monitoring and reporting patient reactions and side effects. We will do our part to ensure that families of loved ones receive frequent progress updates after their loved one has received the vaccine.
If my loved one receives the vaccine, will I be able to visit him/her right away?
We certainly understand the excitement that comes with the light at the end of the tunnel. We will continue to follow guidance from the governor and the DOH regarding in-person visitation and will communicate this guidance in a timely manner to keep family members informed.
Thank you for your patience as we continue to learn more about this process. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.