As we make our way through the pandemic, the good news is that an effective vaccine is now becoming available in the U.S. In fact, healthcare workers and those who live in senior living are among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Making your decision to be vaccinated is not only an important step to prevent you from getting sick but can also play a role in helping protect others.

Yet we understand that you may still have questions about the vaccine, its safety and any possible side effects. The following answers are provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to some of the more common questions that people have asked. 

COVID-19 vaccine Q & A

If you have further questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor or a staff member if you live in a senior living community. The better you understand the vaccine and the pandemic, the better decisions you’ll be able to make.

Question #1: Is the vaccine safe?

Answer: Yes.

Clinical trials are conducted for all vaccines and must show that they are safe and effective before they can be approved and authorized for use. The known and potential benefits of a vaccine, including COVID-19, must be determined to outweigh the known and potential risks.

Question #2: Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

Answer: No.

None of the COVID-19 vaccines developed in the U.S. contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 so it cannot make you sick.

It does typically take a few weeks for your body to build up immunity protection after you’re vaccinated. A person infected with the virus just before or after being vaccinated might become ill because the vaccine didn’t have enough time to provide protection.

Question #3: How does the vaccine benefit me?

Answer: It’s highly effective at preventing COVID-19.

The vaccination works with your immune system so it will be able to fight the virus if you become exposed.

Another benefit based on the early data from clinical trials and the experience gained from other vaccines is that it might also keep you from getting seriously ill if you do contract COVID-19. And when you’re vaccinated, you may help protect other people around you.

Question #4: Are there side effects to the vaccine?

Answer: There can be but they are usually mild

The most common one is pain at the injection site. Some individuals also experienced fever and chills. These are actually signs that your immune system is working and beginning to build up protection against COVID-19. The side effects have tended to be mild to moderate and go away quickly.

Question #5: Should I wait to receive the vaccine until I know that it’s safe?

Answer: No.

The federal government has ensured the vaccines are safe and effective through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization authority. It was determined that the known and potential benefits do outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine.

When testing the COVID-19 vaccine, they included groups of adults age 65 and older, if you have concerns regarding the vaccine and seniors. It was shown to be safe and to provide protection from COVID-19 in these older adults.

Question #6: If I have an underlying medical condition, should I get the vaccine?

Answer: Yes.

Speak with your medical professional about any concerns you may have but those with medical conditions are able to receive the vaccine unless they’ve had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine or any of the ingredients it contains.

The vaccine can be an important tool especially for those with medical conditions because they are likely at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus.

Question #7: How many people need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity?

Answer: Unknown at this point.

Herd immunity means enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they’ve already had it or have been vaccinated. It can also help protect those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns.  

The percentage of people needed to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. It is currently being studied for COVID-19.

Question #8: Is it better to develop natural immunity rather than relying on a vaccine?

Answer: No.

The vaccination protects you by creating an antibody response without you having to experience sickness.

For people who have contracted COVID-19, some immunity or natural protection may result, especially in the 90 days that follow. However, experts are not sure how long the protection may last. The risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity.

Question #9: If I already had COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Answer: Yes.

At this time, we don’t know how long someone may be protected with a natural immunity after they recover from the illness.

Because of the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and since being re-infected can occur, you should still get vaccinated even if you’ve contracted the illness.

Question #10: What’s the best course of action to take at this time to fight COVID-19?

Answer: We need to use all of our knowledge and tools.

At present as we begin vaccinating, everyone will need to continue to wear a mask and remain socially distanced in order to stop the pandemic. Other recommended steps include avoiding crowds, poorly ventilated spaces and washing your hands often.

Life at Tapestry Senior Living communities

Our residents and staff have or will soon be vaccinated, allowing us to take a big step in the right direction toward leaving COVID-19 behind.

Although we’ll need to proceed with caution even once we’ve been vaccinated, we look forward to seeing our residents come together again with family and friends and celebrate all that life has to offer.

Until then, we will continue to support and encourage each other as we make our way through this journey.

If you or your family is considering senior living, we hope you’ll call to discuss what Tapestry Senior Living communities have to offer. Our person-centered approach, services, amenities and activities all play an important role in helping you to live your most engaged life.

If you have any questions about our communities or how Tapestry Senior Living is responding to COVID-19, please contact one of our advisors.