In a bid to have all residents and employees vaccinated for the flu by the end of October, Brookdale Senior Living is now offering scheduled, onsite vaccination clinics run by CVS Health’s long-term care pharmacy business, Omnicare, in all of its communities, home health agencies and corporate offices.
The company, which began offering vaccinations to employees during the 2015-2016 flu season, has launched what it is calling a “massive campaign” to encourage not only all residents and associates to receive their shots, but workers’ family members as well.
In outreach that includes website postings, fliers, emails to employees and a video featuring Brookdale President and CEO Cindy Baier, the organization is highlighting the dangers of a flu season that overlaps with COVID-19 concerns and is seeking to dispel misconceptions about the dangers of vaccines with basic scientific information about how vaccines work.
“Given the unknowns about COVID-19 and facing two infectious threats this fall, all residents, patients and associates — this includes everyone from frontline caregivers to those in an office setting — are advised to get a flu shot,” Kim Elliott, RN, senior vice president of clinical services, urged readers in a Monday blog post.
“Skipping your shot is taking an unnecessary risk with your health and the health of those around you,” she wrote.
Vaccinations will be deferred for residents who are in isolation due to COVID-19 infection, Elliott added.
Depending on the site, flu shots will be offered in scheduled indoor and outdoor walk-up and drive-thru clinics. In some communities, Omnicare staff members also will bring the vaccines to residents.
The outreach to associates’ family members is a new tactic for Brookdale. It is widely accepted that healthcare employees are unwitting sources of COVID-19 and other infections among the elderly in their care, and long-term care workers typically have a low vaccination rate compared with others in healthcare. Brookdale employees’ family members will be able to receive shots in communities that offer outdoor clinics, using their insurance or paying out of pocket as they would elsewhere.
Each scheduled on-site clinic will have other vaccines available as well. Residents and older staff members are being encouraged to get up to date on shingles and pneumonia immunizations and Tdap boosters.
“Flu season usually runs from November to March, so the best time to get vaccinated and give your body time to build up antibodies is by the end of October,” Elliot concluded. “Think of the flu shot as an investment in your wellness and the wellness of those around you, especially the seniors in your life,” she added.
In related vaccine news
Pharmacies brace for surge in demand for flu shots amid pandemic In anticipation of greater-than-usual demand, pharmacies across the country are stockpiling additional influenza vaccines, according to medical news outlet STAT. Drugstore chain Rite Aid, for example, has purchased 40% more flu vaccines than normal, and Walgreens has also increased its supply in expectation of a 30% to 50% jump in demand for flu shots and other immunizations, the news outlet reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meanwhile, by late August had ordered an additional 9.3 million adult flu vaccines. Most years, the agency orders and distributes a half-million doses, according to the American Medical Association.