As vaccination rates increase and senior living restriction begin to decrease, many operators across the country are coming out with mandates for their staff to be vaccinated. Civitas Senior Living, Juniper Communities, Atria Senior Living, Silverado Senior Living, and Sunrise Senior Living are amongst the first to declare mandatory vaccines for all staff members throughout all of their respective communities.
In a press release sent on March 18th, Civitas Senior Living Chief Operating Officer Misty Miller said making the vaccines mandatory was imperative to not only protect all Civitas residents and employees but also return the senior living industry to pre-COVID normalcy.
“Due to Civitas’ vaccination efforts at our communities, we have seen incredible results,” Miller said. “As of today, we do not currently have any residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 at our communities. We credit this to our vaccination program, effective protocol, and the passionate care of our staff members. However, we recognize that the COVID-19 virus still poses a threat. It is up to Civitas and all of us to stay vigilant. We know that the vaccines are the way to the future, a future that not only benefits our residents’ quality of life but also the senior living industry. That is why we are requiring all of our employees to take that next step and get vaccinated.”
The goal of requiring all staff members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect the most susceptible and vulnerable population that they care for and interact with every day. Individuals who work in senior living are rather used to putting residents first and view the vaccine as an opportunity to continue to provide the best level of care and assure resident safety. However, not everyone is onboard with the mandate, as exemplified by the approximate 30 individuals who self-terminated at Juniper Communities in response to their vaccination requirement.
Although COVID-19 cases in LTC appear to be dropping, staff and resident vaccination is crucial in order to welcome new residents, staff, and visitors without fear of exposure or infection. Atria Senior Living and Civitas Senior Living employees have until May 1st to be fully vaccinated, and this trend is expected to continue throughout the industry. Companies do have the right to mandate their staff to be vaccinated, however there are certain medical / religious exemptions that should be honored according to law.
Wayne Powell, Co-Founder at Civitas Senior Living says, “the vaccine is the best way forward.” Senior Living Communities across the country are eager to return to a sense of normalcy and for some mandating staff vaccinations are another step toward a safer future. As more communities join the roster of mandatory staff vaccinations and many have 100% resident vaccination rates, hope is on the horizon for an industry that has been on lockdown for over a year.