Resident and Family Letter, from Danny Stricker, President, Ascension Living
Dear Ascension Living Residents, Participants and Family Members,
Keeping our residents, participants, and associates safe and healthy – and keeping everyone informed – continue to be our top priorities as we respond to COVID-19 and rely on state and federal health experts for guidance. We’re pleased to share current information about COVID-19 vaccines.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring the safety, effectiveness and availability of vaccines in the United States. The FDA requires extensive testing to protect safety and identify any potential side effects.
Many healthcare workers and first responders will receive the earliest wave of available COVID-19 vaccines, as these professions are exposed to the virus at higher rates than others. Under CDC guidelines, older residents of nursing homes and those with high-risk health conditions also will be eligible to receive vaccinations in the first phases. You can find more information at www.cdc.gov and on the Ascension website at https://healthcare.ascension.org/covid-19/covid-vaccine.
As you may know, two drug manufacturers – Pfizer and Moderna – have requested Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) for their COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer was granted EAU approval on Dec. 10. Each of these vaccines has demonstrated safety and effectiveness, and the FDA is expected to authorize both of them for emergency use this month. We believe the vaccines are both safe and effective and the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any identified risks or side effects.
I am happy to report that Ascension Living communities will soon be able to make a COVID-19 vaccine available to residents, participants, and associates who wish to receive the immunization. Vaccine availability will vary by state and community. The earliest some communities will receive the vaccine is in late-December.
We strongly encourage all Ascension Living residents, participants and associates to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Residents will not be given the vaccine without the permission of the resident or resident representative/medical proxy and documentation in resident charts, as is standard practice for other vaccines. If you want to receive the vaccine, you will need to complete the Walgreens Community Off-Site Vaccine Administration Record (VAR)—Informed Consent for Vaccination. Soon you will hear from your community leader regarding how to return the form.
We will continue to follow infection-prevention guidelines from the CDC, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and state and local health departments. We look forward to being able to adjust protocols and ease restrictions when advised by CDC, CMS, public health officials and our infection control specialists that it is safe to do so while continuing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our current community restrictions can be found on the Resources Page of AscensionLiving.org. We will not stop working to keep our communities healthy during this time and prevent the spread of infection while continuing to care for those who need us most. Our community leaders will continue to keep you informed of any new developments in your community.
We know this has been a difficult time for you and your family. We are doing all we can to connect our residents and beloved family members, while ensuring the continued safety of all and adhering to relevant regulations and guidance. Here are a few helpful ideas for how to stay virtually connected this upcoming holiday season:
● Personal devices for video chats, emails, text messages and phone calls
● Cards and letters with messages of support and updates on family members
● Recorded videos and video messages shared through email or text messages
● Care packages with photos, drawings, favorite snacks and forms of entertainment (e.g., books, magazines, puzzles). Our teams are happy to deliver to your loved one.
If you have any questions, please contact your community leader or email:
Now and always, Ascension Living is here for you and your family. We hope you have a blessed and joyful holiday season.
Danny Stricker, President, Ascension Living