Good Afternoon Residents, Families, and Staff,
Great news today! We are now considered out of our Outbreak by the NJ Department of Health. We can start to move forward to Phase I of the New Jersey Road to Recovery. Although the outbreak is concluded, we are still in our Riverview Bubble working diligently to stop the spread of virus at our door. With the State of New Jersey in a level 3 or HIGH alert for the COVID-19 virus, we are all once again in a very vulnerable situation. The numbers in the Burlington County Communities are continually climbing and today I have report that many of our local hospitals are at or near capacity for COVID-19 treatment. Once again, the Governor and CDC and NJ Department of Health is recommending everyone to use strict precautions, wash our hands often and wear a mask. The Holidays and gathering of people during this time is a contributor to the increases in numbers of cases.
Due to the rise in the current COVID Pandemic, The Department of Health has all NJ facilities piloting a testing program over the past two weeks. Staff entering the facility is tested with a rapid antigen test. This testing is for all staff on every other day basis upon entering the facility and daily for any healthcare workers or vendors entering the facility. Unfortunately, there is limited supply for this type of testing which the government has sent for us to utilize. This testing has given us a better sense of security in that we are not bringing the virus into our facility. Test results are shown in 15 minutes and can ensure anyone that is positive for COVID-19 does not infect our Residents and Staff. These tests are about 98% accurate. This has been a great sense of relief that we are not just doing surveillance at the door for symptoms or signs of illness and exposures and now have another layer of confidence upon entering the facility.
The COVID-19 Vaccines are currently being distributed possibly within the next week. We have partnered with NJ Department of Health and CVS to be the first group to receive vaccines for our Residents and Staff. It has been determined finally by the government that our vulnerable population will be the first to receive allotment of the vaccine. We will have additional information soon regarding the roll out of our Vaccine Clinic.
I know many are skeptical of accepting this Vaccine since it is new. I personally felt the same. Now after living through this Pandemic over the past 9 months as a woman over 65 with underlying health issue of my own and a large family that has been affected by this virus, I have changed my mind. My family could not be together for the Holiday either. I cooked and sent shopping bags of their favorite holiday food to each of my five sons’ families so they could have part of me at their Holiday meal. There were many tears as I watched them through the glass picking up those bags on the front step. Three of my family members were sick with the COVID virus and three others quarantining after being exposed in the community. But we are all thankful to be here and have hopes for the next year.
We all realize that Christmas will be challenging this year while the country is peaking with surges of the virus. My decision to accept the vaccine is that I would rather accept the small risk of the symptoms associated to receiving the vaccine than accepting to continue to live in fear for my family and myself.
We are still unsure if we will receive the Pfizer or Maderno vaccine at this point. Both are a two-step vaccine at approximately 21-28 days apart. They are 95-96% efficacy rate. The risk of a side effect is estimated at 4-10%. This is low compared to other vaccines we currently have. The most common reaction is fatigue and some reported headache and pain at injection site. This does not seem to be more than some of us experience with receiving the flu vaccine.
Many of us have been vaccinated to other potentially harmful disease and viruses over the years. These vaccines were accepted by our parents as a protection for their children. We should look to these true Heroes when making informed and educated decisions to accept the vaccine. Our Residents were part of the population that received the three step Polio vaccine in its infancy, smallpox vaccination, Influenza, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough, Meningitis, Measles, Mumps and pneumonia just to name a few. This was a scary decision when these vaccines were first introduced. However, these vaccines have saved many from severe illness and death. I am very thankful that our parents bravely made the decisions to accept these vaccines for themselves and for us. I don’t mean to go into a commercial for the COVID Vaccines. I wanted to share my thoughts as I am sure we all have mixed feelings to this subject.
I have another call on Monday with the CDC regarding the vaccine distribution. I will share information regarding the vaccine. We are currently learning a lot from the United Kingdom with their rollout of vaccine distribution. The next week will give us more insight to help with further questions. We also have some information coming from CVS and our consent forms will be coming shortly also. I know this seems rushed however, we have to be ready when they distribute the vaccines due to timing with strict storage parameters. I will be reaching out periodically through the week until we have a set plan and more answers to your questions.
The following information is directly from the CDC website and answers some of the questions we may have:
Testing and trials?
COVID-19 vaccines were tested in large clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards. Many people were recruited to participate in these trials to see how the vaccines offers protection to people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions.
How long will we have protection from the virus?
“Both this disease and the vaccine are new. We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.”
Potential side effects related to the vaccine?
Most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated. We will understand more about mild side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine before we start to use it. However, your arm may be sore, red, or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. Some people report getting a headache or fever when getting a vaccine. These side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It is working and building up protection to disease.”
How many doses are needed and why?
Nearly all COVID-19 vaccines being studied in the United States require two shots. The first shot starts building protection, but everyone has to come back a few weeks later for the second one to get the most protection the vaccine can offer.
While all of this information comes with us still asking many questions, we should celebrate that we have made great strides to combat yet another deadly virus. We also should give honor and thanks to our Residents, Parents, and Loved Ones, who have bravely lived through multiple types of pandemics as true Warriors and Heroes throughout their lifetime, making the hard choices to accept new developments in healthcare and technology to keep us all Healthy and Safe.
UPDATE: FDA just approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency rapid distribution. This will go before EUA panel and we may see vaccines in a week. The Pfizer vaccine is 94% efficacy for those over 65 and 95% for other age groups. The rate of incident to side effects are relatively low.
I will be sure to send more information as it is received.
Joanna Pastore, RN BSN, LNHA
You can reach us at the following email:
firstname.lastname@example.org Joanna Pastore, Executive Director
email@example.com Kathy Leypoldt, Director of Assisted Living
firstname.lastname@example.org Wendy Dobovich, Director of Nursing
email@example.com Jesse Gonzalez, Director of Social Services