Aegis Living Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Last Updated January 3, 2021
Below you will find COVID-19 vaccine-related information specific to our residents and staff as well as more clinical vaccine-related information from trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), our pharmacy partner CVS Health and medical associations like AMDA (the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine). For more detailed medical information and resources on the vaccine, we encourage you to consider visiting these websites:
- CDC: Index of COVID-19 Vaccine Information
- FDA: COVID-19 Vaccine Information
- CVS Health: CVS Pharmacy COVID-19 Vaccine Information
- WHO: COVID-19 Pandemic
Please note: These FAQs will be updated as more information becomes available.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How is a vaccine developed and tested?
According to the CDC, vaccine clinical development is a three-phase process. During Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine. In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded, and vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. In Phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety. Many vaccines undergo Phase IV formal, ongoing studies after the vaccine is approved and licensed.
- What are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for the safety and efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine?
The FDA requires 50% efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna showed up to 95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 disease during the trial phase. Safety is the most important requirement for a vaccine and is assessed in trials by independent experts. Most adverse side effects occur within 6 weeks of vaccine administration, and the FDA has required 8 weeks of safety monitoring so it can track any side effects. The FDA advises a minimum of 3,000 participants to assess safety of a vaccine. The current COVID-19 Phase III trials have 30,000 to 50,000 participants.
- How would the COVID-19 vaccine work?
The goal of the vaccine is to expose the body to an antigen that won’t cause the disease but will provoke an immune response that can block or kill the virus if the person becomes infected. Vaccines either contain the whole virus or a component of it. After receiving a vaccine like the COVID-19 vaccine, a person develops immunity to the disease without having to get the disease. Some vaccines last a year (like the flu vaccine); some last longer. Current science suggests the COVID-19 could be more like a flu vaccine requiring annual dosing but more research is needed to confirm this.
For more information, visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/effectiveness.html
- What steps has Aegis Living taken to prepare for the vaccine?
We have been in daily contact with state and local health authorities to be ready to deploy the vaccine to our residents and teams. In November, we registered each of our communities with CVS Health, our primary pharmacy provider and one of the organizations that has been formally approved by the Department of Health & Human Services to administer the vaccine. We have been working closely with CVS and leadership at each of our 32 communities to finalize our rollout plan.
This plan has been further vetted and informed by our Aegis Living Coronavirus Advisory Council, made up of a group of best-in-class physicians and industry experts from a variety of relevant backgrounds.
In addition to a rollout plan, we are educating our team members, residents and their families to help all parties better understand the vaccine, how it works and its benefits.
- How is CVS Health working with the CDC to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to residents and staff of long-term care facilities?
As announced by the HHS and Department of Defense, CVS Health has entered into a contract with the CDC to be one of the official COVID-19 Vaccination Program Providers in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.
- How will scheduling take place?
We are working closely with CVS Health to determine our vaccine schedule over the next few weeks. Residents and families will be alerted as soon as more specific timing is available.
- What efforts, if any, will Aegis Living make in informing and educating residents about the importance of the vaccine?
Aegis Living is prioritizing resident, staff and family education to help all parties better understand the vaccine, how it works and its benefits. We are using CDC and FDA resources on vaccine safety and efficacy, developing an informative video series, and communicating with residents and families every step of the way.
- What should residents and family members be doing to prepare for the vaccine?
Educate yourself! We are encouraging all residents and family members to closely review the materials we have provided as well as validated third-party resources (like CDC and FDA) to fully understand the vaccine and its benefits.
- Will residents and staff be charged for the vaccine?
No, vaccines will be administered free of charge.
- Where will the vaccinations take place? Will they take place at CVS Pharmacies or at the Aegis Living communities?
CVS Health will coordinate and schedule a series of clinics onsite at Aegis Living communities.
- Who administers the vaccines at onsite clinics?
Appropriate trained personnel under applicable state and federal laws and guidance will administer vaccines to residents and team members at the onsite clinics. CVS Health immunizers are trained and certified according to company and state specific regulations. These immunizers may include pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and trained pharmacy technicians, as well as other qualified healthcare professionals. All CVS Health immunizers are trained in the administration of immunizations and hold an active CPR certification.
- What, if anything, will change at Aegis Living communities after the vaccine is administered to residents?
We remain vigilant in our safety and infection control policies and practices. Vaccine experts have reported that those who have received the vaccine might still be able to get infected and pass the virus on to others. It is also important to note that full protection may not occur for a few weeks after the second dose of the vaccine is administered. It takes the body time to build up this immunity.
During this initial stage, staff will continue wearing masks, face shields and other personal protective equipment, maintaining safe distances and following our overall infection control and safety protocols. Residents will also follow current safety guidelines including wearing masks and following social-distance guidelines. We will evaluate changes to our practices and protocols based on guidance from local and national public health authorities and our own experts here at Aegis Living.
- Will family and other visitors still be required to wear masks after their family member in the community has received the vaccine? What other practices will change?
Overall, our approach to safety and infection control will not change at this time. We will continue to require visitors to wear masks until public health officials determine it is no longer necessary.
Vaccine experts have reported that those who have received the vaccine might still be able to get infected and pass the virus on to others. It is also important to note that full protection may not occur for a few weeks after the second dose of the vaccine is administered. It takes the body time to build up this immunity. Our staff will continue wearing face masks, shields and other personal protective equipment as well to ensure we are doing all that we can to protect residents and each other.
During these early stages of the vaccine rollout and until we know more, we must take a holistic approach to health and safety for all, informed by a range of experts including our Aegis Living Coronavirus Advisory Council.
- What sort of precautions is Aegis Living presently taking to protect residents before they have access to the vaccine?
We are continuing to enforce strict safety and infection control policies and practices. We follow our own protocols along with local and national public health guidance. Every community follows our 5-phase plan to carefully phase in services, activities and dining as each community’s situation and the local governments allow. All residents are monitored closely every day for signs of illness, temperature and oxygen level checks. We continue to screen staff at each shift and have instituted weekly testing of 50% (or more) of all staff at every community.
- What vaccines will be offered? Will there be different types?
The first vaccine available will be the approved Pfizer vaccine but we anticipate other vaccines to be approved and available through our partner CVS Health. Allocations are determined by the federal government.
- Will residents and staff both have to take a second dose, and if so, how long after the first one?
Yes. All who take the first vaccine will be highly encouraged to take the second dose. The second vaccine is taken 21 days or more from the initial dose and is critical in achieving its full effectiveness.
- Are there any concerns about the safety of the vaccine?
We are confident with the safety and efficacy this vaccine has shown and have no concerns with rolling it out to our staff and residents. The FDA and other regulatory bodies have demonstrated thorough testing and evaluation of the vaccine. Of note, the 44,000-patient clinical trial included a diverse patient population in terms of race and ethnicity, age, and underlying health conditions.
Vaccination services provided by our partner CVS Health will be conducted in compliance with CDC’s Guidance for Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic for safe delivery of vaccines. CVS Health will only be administering vaccines that have been approved for emergency use by the FDA.
- I’ve heard the vaccine can cause side effects and even not be recommended for someone with existing allergies. How are you managing this?
After the second dose of the vaccine, recipients may experience chills, headaches and muscle aches. These side effects resemble COVID-19 and are indicators the vaccine is working. Important to our resident population, these side effects have been found to be less likely in older adults.
The impact on those with allergies is still being evaluated. Rare early cases in the U.K. led health officials there to say that anyone who has ever had an anaphylactic reaction to a food, medicine, or vaccine should avoid taking the vaccine. In a recent press conference, the FDA recommended that “only people who have previously had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or ingredients in this particular vaccine should avoid getting the shot.”
As always, our Health Service Directors and CVS Health will be working with residents and staff to ensure we understand any existing allergies or other issues that may impact how the vaccine is received. We continue to evaluate the latest news and recommendations around the vaccine to ensure we are fully prepared.
- Will there be any incentives for residents who take the vaccine?
No. We want all residents and staff to be educated and choose to be vaccinated because they believe in its benefit for themselves and the community at large.
- What if a resident or staff refuses to take the vaccine?
Aegis Living is committed to the health and safety of our residents and staff and our goal is 100% coverage. It is a resident’s right to decide whether or not to take the vaccine, but we encourage all residents to take the vaccine for their health and safety. Additionally, we don’t know when the vaccine will become widely available after our clinics are completed, so it is best for residents and staff to be vaccinated while we have access to the clinics.
At this time, our staff are also very strongly encouraged to take the vaccine, although we reserve the right to revisit this policy to make it mandatory in the future. Those staff members not taking the vaccine will need to sign a document explaining why they are not taking the vaccine, as well as comply with our policy regarding PPE, ongoing vaccine education, and increased individual testing.
We will continue to follow current infection control and safety protocols and a 5-phase plan at each community until we have medical proof and public health guidance to shift our current approach. Staff will continue wearing masks, face shields and other personal protective equipment, maintaining safe distances and following our overall infection control and safety protocols. Residents will also follow current safety guidelines including wearing masks and following social-distance guidelines
- How long will the vaccine protect us?
According to CVS Health, we do not know at this time as this will take more research. This vaccine may be like the annual flu vaccine, where we may need to have vaccine shots on a regular basis.