Dear Colleagues, Residents, Families, and Friends,
The community light shines brighter this week as we celebrate Hanukkah and the receipt and distribution of the first of COVID-19 vaccines in our country and state.
Here’s what we know to date about when the vaccine will come to CSP:
RJHC/HSCL should receive the vaccine before the end of December 2020.
RSM/SIHC should receive the vaccine late January/early February 2021.
Kehillah and Affordable Housing Residents: CDC recommendations pending.
Our Administration and Clinical Leadership teams will be conducting education and training for staff, residents, and families so all can make an informed decision before the vaccination clinics begin. Stay tuned for information from your respective Administrator.
Although the vaccine is not mandated, it is one of the most important steps we can take to ending this horrible pandemic. Education and transparency about the vaccine safety and effectiveness is essential to encouraging vaccination to protect our front-line healthcare workers, residents, patients, and clients.
CSP’s Medical Director, Kirsten Carr, MD has prepared the following vaccine Q&A:
Q: How do these new vaccines work?
A: The COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines. Although this is a newer technology, it has been used for almost two decades. It has been studied in humans and animals during this time and has shown fewer side effects than traditional vaccination methods. Although this is the first widely distributed vaccine to use this technology, the available data indicates that these vaccines are not only more safe but also more effective. The component mRNA work by teaching the immune system to fight COVID by creating proteins that activate a specific immune response in each person’s body. Most other vaccines actually introduce a weakened virus into the body, so this is one step better and safer and more effective. Safety data has been performed on almost 40,000 test participants.
You will need to have two doses of the same brand of vaccine separated by about 21 days.
Q: Are there any adverse effects reported with the vaccines:
A: The most common side effects are mild reactions that are normal and expected. These symptoms can occur within the first 72 hours and last for around 24-48 hours. These are very common and this is in part because the vaccine causes such a great recruitment of your own immune system to make really good long-term immunity to this disease.
- Redness at the injection site
- Pain at the injection site
- Swelling at the injection site
- Muscle/Joint aches and pains
- Low-grade fever
Some have put forth concerns about the long-term side effects. The major long-term concerns are that the immunity will not be as long lived. Vaccines in general have short term side effects, not long-term side effects.
Q: I got the vaccine and now I have symptoms. How do I know if they are COVID symptoms or just normal vaccine symptoms?
A: The symptoms mentioned above are not specific to COVID and if these occur within the first few days after the vaccine, this would not raise concern for active infection. However, an ongoing elevated temperature, cough, loss of taste, or other symptoms that are more specific to COVID infection should be evaluated and antigen testing should be considered as the vaccine should not cause positive antigen testing.
Q: Is it better to get COVID and not the vaccine?
A: No! We know that, especially in folks over the age of 65 and those with chronic conditions, there is at least a 1-3% fatality rate. That means across the CSP continuum alone we would have at least 20 folks die of the disease if everyone had it. In contrast, nobody has died from the vaccine, nor is that a likely possibility based on how the vaccine works. So, the risk of contracting COVID far outpaces the risk of vaccine.
Q: Once I get the vaccine, can I feel safe to go out again in public?
A: Until the vaccine is widely distributed and accepted into practice, continued vigilance related to infection control is required. The vaccine is very effective: 94-95% is estimated. However, that does mean that up to 6% of those who receive the vaccine do not create enough of an immune response to fight off the disease if exposed to it in the future. It will remain important to continue with hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing until we see a significant reduction of infection in the community.
Q: Should I get the vaccine if I had COVID-19?
A: Yes! The current recommendations are for all persons regardless of previous infection status to receive the vaccine. However, it is not recommended that those with an active infection receive the vaccine. Once the active infection has subsided and isolation protocols have been removed, the person would be considered safe to receive the vaccine.
Q: Who should NOT get the vaccine?
A: When we have the EUA Fact Sheet the guidance will be clear. The vaccine has not been studied in pregnant females, adolescents under 16 years old or immunocompromised patients so there is likelihood that it may not be recommended for certain subpopulations.
Q: What if I am immunocompromised?
A: Those populations were excluded from the current studies, so there is no known safety data at this time. Further, we do not know if the body would mount an immune response for those with immune system compromise or those who are taking immunosuppression therapy.
Q: What if I choose not to get the vaccine?
A: Certainly, nobody can be forced to have a vaccine. However, it will be key to the long-term containment of the virus for as many folks as can safely obtain this vaccine to receive it. Herd immunity is the concept that when a community has enough folks who have had the disease or are immune through vaccination, that the ability for a disease to become widespread is eliminated. Those who have compromised immune systems, have religious beliefs that disallow vaccination and who may have had reactions to a vaccine in the past rely on those with immunity to protect them. The herd immunity estimates for COVID-19 are 80-90%. This is very high; however, young children have not been approved to use the current vaccine. It is not yet known how the general population can obtain herd immunity until all children are immunized. Having immunity via a vaccine will remain the key for most adults to remain safe from contracting the disease.
CSP Bi-Weekly Testing Update:
December 6-12: Testing complete. No new positive results.
December 13-19: Bi-weekly testing: First test results pending; second testing of the week in process.
Our dear staff who have tested positive continue to recuperate at home.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact the campus administrators or me. We will assist you in any way possible.
HSCL/RJHC: Krista Mattox: 503-320-0807
RSM: Vivian Villegas: 1-360-936-2694
With love, honor, and respect,
Chief Executive Officer