Senior Care Facilities Anxiously Await Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines

Senior Care Facilities Anxiously Await Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines
A file photo shows a senior citizen sitting in her room in Freedom Village Retirement Community in Lake Forest, Calif., in 2017. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Senior care companies with facilities in Orange County are hailing the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, which began this week in Southern California, despite concerns about whether the vaccine is safe for patients who live in long-term care centers.

An official for Aegis Living, a leading provider of assisted living and memory care with facilities in Laguna Niguel and Dana Point, said the company is currently working on an education program for its team, residents, and their families “to help all parties better understand the vaccine, how it works and its benefits.”

Aegis Living President Kris Engskov told The Epoch Times in an email that the company is very encouraged by the latest vaccine news.

“The pandemic has undoubtedly created challenges for all of us, but we believe there is a bright light now at the end of the tunnel,” Engskov said.

He said the community is prepared to begin administering vaccinations as soon as they become available.

“We have registered all our communities with our pharmacy provider that is formally approved to administer the vaccine and put all other plans in place so that when the time comes, we are ready to activate quickly,” Engskov said.

“Not only is it critical to protect the most vulnerable among us, but it is equally important to protect those who provide their care.”

Evelyn Stephens, an 89-year-old resident of Leisure World in Seal Beach, told The Epoch Times she’s more concerned about doctors and nurses receiving first priority for COVID-19 vaccinations than about getting one for herself.

Stephens, who is self-quarantining in her home, said she’s been through mass vaccinations before.

“I was a lab technician in my 20s when the polio vaccine came out,” Stephens said. “I was required to take polio shots. First it was two shots, and then the next year, they came out with sugar [tablets with vaccine].”

But Stephens said this time is different.

“They came out with the [COVID-19] vaccine fast,” she said. “But I believe that there are people who need to take it. Doctors and nurses and people working in restaurants need to be protected first, before some of us that are quarantined in our houses.”

Atria Senior Living, a national senior care management company with facilities throughout Southern California, is partnering with CVS Pharmacy to assist with vaccine administration within its communities.

“The vaccine promises to be that huge last layer of protection we need for our residents and staff (and society), in addition to ongoing Atria protocols such as testing and PPE [personal protective equipment],” John Moore, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in an online report.

“We see the COVID vaccine as the dawn of a new day—not totally unlike our Greatest Generation’s experience with V-E Day, when the Allies could finally claim victory in Europe in World War II.”

Moore said the company is looking forward to the end of the pandemic “at the first possible moment.”

“We look forward to sharing what we know, when we know it, as we enter what may be one of the most important seasons of our lifetime—‘vaccine season,’” he said.

Stephens, who recently received her flu shot in Leisure World by “just getting in your car and putting your arm out the window,” said her faith in God is what gives her hope during the pandemic.

When asked about how she approaches the challenges brought on by COVID-19, Stephens said, “I pray. God has always been so good to me.”