A term taking center focus right now is vaccine hesitancy. As the general public is being strongly encouraged to take their place in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, some people are resisting; experiencing vaccine hesitancy. The resulting countermeasure is tagged vaccine confidence, meaning to establish trust in what is the only current way of eradicating COVID-19.
Just about a year ago, we were getting together with friends, hugging loved ones, going out to eat, seeing movies, going shopping, traveling, and engaging in the many other activities and pursuits that we enjoyed and often took for granted. Remember those times? Much of that came to a screeching halt when the country started experiencing the horrifying impact of COVID-19. The worst health crisis in a generation has sickened and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, closed businesses, stores, and restaurants, wreaked havoc on our economy…the list goes on and on.
Operation Warp Speed (OWS)
Largely through an initiative called Operation Warp Speed (OWS), there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. To date, two vaccines created by Pfizer and Moderna have been developed and tested and are being distributed to prevent people from becoming sick with COVID. More are likely on the way. The spread of information, misinformation, and confusing information is almost as quick as that of the virus. However, one thing is painfully clear. Without the vaccine, there is no end of COVID -19 in sight.
So let’s take a look at some of the credible information made available by leading experts in health, medical science, and infectious disease in order to help understand more about the impact of COVID-19 and the hopeful eventual eradication of the disease through the use of the vaccine.
Some Background About Vaccines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a vaccine as “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease.”
There’s a long and interesting history about vaccines. What’s important to know in terms of vaccine confidence right now, is that vaccines are not new. The first official vaccine dates back to 1796 in England, when one was developed to combat smallpox. This was a devastating disease that, over many hundreds of years, killed countless people. Over many years it was refined and eventually used worldwide. The 33rd World Health Assembly cited that “eradication of smallpox is considered the biggest achievement in international public health.”
Eradication of a deadly disease through vaccination. That sounds exactly like what we’re hoping for now.
Other diseases successfully eliminated or significantly limited through vaccines are polio, diphtheria, mumps, measles, and rubella. So vaccines have a long, proven, and invaluable track record.
By the Numbers
COVID-19 has played a devastating role in the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans. This number is climbing every day.
There’s a lot of skepticism about the reported number, as some people suspect it’s inflated; that COVID is being blamed for deaths because it is present in the body of the deceased but not necessarily the actual direct cause. The thought is that the number is being greatly exaggerated as a scare tactic or even as a hoax. For the purposes of defending the importance of the vaccine, however, consider this sobering fact. While complete data isn’t in yet, preliminary numbers show that more than 3.2 million Americans died in 2020. This is at least 400,000 more Americans that died in 2020, than in 2019. This 15% increase, which could go higher when final numbers are in, marks the largest single-year percentage increase in American deaths since 1918. That was a year when tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers died in WWI, and hundreds of thousands of Americans died because of the flu pandemic. These numbers make it reasonably easy to connect the dots on the direct or indirect mortality rate of COVID-19. There’s a lot of COVID out there and a lot of people dying from it, whether or not it’s the direct cause.
Add to that the fact that thousands of more people who are surviving the disease are dealing with prolonged debilitating conditions.
Furthermore, the number of people seriously impacted by COVID have put a serious strain on our hospitals and especially our ICUs.
Look at the numbers however you choose. COVID-19 is devastating.
Is Warp Speed Too Fast?
The good news is also the frightening news?
The term ‘warp speed’ became sci-fi talk in the mid-1900s, made popular by Dr. Spock, Captain Kirk, and Scottie as they talked about the phenomenal pace of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek. What is fun and exciting for the speed of a fictional space vessel becomes more intimidating when talking about the rate of developing a major health initiative. People worry, and rightly so, that something we’re being encouraged to inject into our bodies came about fast, awfully fast. While people are glad that there’s a weapon against COVID so soon (even though it’s felt like forever), it’s fair and reasonable also to be frightened about the speed. Were there corners cut?
Here are some facts about how this modern-day miracle was able to happen so quickly.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization for the two existing COVID-19 vaccines, which are available now, only after meeting rigorous criteria for safety and effectiveness. The EUA has determined that the known and potential benefits of the vaccines outweigh the known and potential risks for the vaccines.
- While the COVID-19 vaccines are new, much of the science started years ago for other vaccinations. We were not, in this case, starting from scratch. That helped things develop much more quickly.
- Collaboration overshadowed competition. The very best minds have been investigating and studying all components of the virus. Sure, pharmaceutical companies wanted to win the ‘first’ place finish, but there’s enough vaccine business to go around and more than enough pride to share.
- The massive infusion of money from the government helped in a number of ways, including but not limited to motivation. It also ensured that vaccine developers had the resources they needed to get started working right away.
- While finding volunteers to participate in medical trials is often a time-consuming challenge, such was not the case for the COVID-19 vaccines. There were many people eager to participate. This was aided through the use of social media, which helped to get the word about the need. The vaccines were tested on many thousands of people.
- The massive infusion of government money facilitated the opportunity for steps in the process to be done simultaneously rather than incrementally. For instance, the government invested at its own risk, in necessary manufacturing capacity in advance while development was still underway. This let developers hit the ground running with manufacturing.
Two Doses? Why Do I Need to Do This Twice?
It’s not unprecedented for a second or booster dose of a vaccination to be necessary. Such is the case with both of the existing COVID-19 vaccines. The double dose enables the immune system to provide longer-lasting protection. If someone receives just the first shot, there may be some protection, but it’s unclear how much and how long it will last. The full benefits are achieved by receiving both doses.
What About Side Effects
There are potential side effects of the COVID vaccine. However, many people experience none at all. Some people’s side effects that are experienced include soreness at the injection site, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, and fever. These tend to go away after a day or two. There have also been some allergic reactions, especially by people who have had allergic reactions in the past. You’ll also, no doubt, hear about extreme reactions. While under careful investigation, most of these have not been tied to the vaccines.
There’s an important takeaway. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason why even young, healthy people are hit hard by COVID; sometimes extremely hard, and even fatally. You don’t know how COVID-19 will effect you. On the other hand, the most likely side effects of the vaccine pale in comparison to the potentially serious impact of the virus.
Is the Vaccine Going to Change my DNA?
The vaccine does not change one’s DNA. In a nutshell, the COVD-19 vaccines use messenger RNA (nRNA). This is a genetic material that contains instructions for making proteins. It enters human cells and instructs them to produce the ‘spike protein’ that stimulates the body’s immune system to attack the coronavirus. The cell then degrades the mRNA, and there is no evidence that it remains in the cell. Dr. David Skorton, the President and CEO of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), reported that mRNA vaccines were made possible for COVID-19 “by decades of biomedical research within the academic medicine community.”
Will the Vaccine Protect Me? Will it Protect Those Around Me?
According to the FDA, most vaccines that protect from viral illnesses also reduce viral transmission; the process by which viruses are spread by those who have been vaccinated. While there’s optimism about this being the case for the COVID-19 vaccines, the information is inconclusive at present. So while receiving the vaccine will protect you from getting sick, it’s unclear whether or not you can still transmit the virus to others. Therefore, for the time being, it’s strongly recommended to keep wearing a mask to protect other people.
Also known as community immunity, herd immunity is a confusing concept. Johns Hopkins School of Public Health explains that herd immunity results when the majority of the population is immune from a disease, providing indirect protection to people who are not immune. To achieve herd immunity, a large percentage of the population needs to get infected and/or get the vaccine. If we waited for enough people to get infected, it’s estimated that millions would die during the process. Consequently, becoming vaccinated is crucial to developing herd immunity.
Become Informed by the Experts
The available information about vaccines is abundant; some is reassuring, some is frightening, some is made by informed experts, some is theorized, some is accurate, some is false. As you decide whether or not you want to become vaccinated, do your own research and make sure you reference authorities who have informed insight. Make your decision based on fact, science, and expert knowledge. Don’t do yourself the disservice of depending on theorists or alarmists for determining your future.
In closing, a nurse was recently asked if she was going to get the vaccine. She responded with an emphatic ‘yes.’ When countered, “Aren’t you afraid?” She said, “I’ve seen COVID-19 and how it ravages people, and so that is what makes me afraid.”
- The Vaccine
For most of 2020, the coronavirus rendered senior communities some of the most dangerous places to be. The statistics are simply heartbreaking. Yet, with residents in senior living second only to frontline healthcare employees in line for the vaccine against COVID-19 (with some already having received it), senior communities will soon be among the most low-risk environments. According to Senior Living Foresight publisher Steve Moran, “By the end of January, senior living will likely be the safest place to live on the planet.” What’s more, the CDC and FDA will provide continuous vaccine safety monitoring and education for residents and their families.
- Groundbreaking Science
The science behind the COVID-19 vaccine is not only groundbreaking, it came with breathtaking speed. Even before the pandemic reached global proportions, drug manufacturers achieved unprecedented large-scale success in clinical trials. The Medical Futurist posits, “Who would have thought that the genome of a virus could be sequenced within 24 hours? Not a single person would have bet on it before 2020.” Such effective, rapid epidemiologic response promises to continue in the future.
- Hindsight and Foresight
What we’ve experienced in 2020 has informed – and transformed – us forever, particularly professionals in care settings. They’ve risen above anyone’s wildest imaginings in creativity, adaptability and, yes, genuine heroism. 20/20 hindsight affords crystal clear foresight into what needs to be done in 2021:
- The positive stories coming out of senior living need to be shared.
- Staff in senior living need to feel valued and appreciated with formal incentives and recognition tactics.
- Lingering negative impressions of senior living, reluctance to move in, and drop in census need to be mitigated with trained crisis communications.
- Fresh Starts
For most of us, 2020 couldn’t get off the calendar fast enough. Even for those disinclined to anticipate changes, expectations for 2021 are uniquely high. For older adults, a new year brings the potential for an enriching new life in senior living, especially as residents in senior communities are among the first to receive the COVID vaccine. Now is the time to “seize the day” and let prospects know all senior living has to offer, including renewed safety and security.
- Warmer Weather and Longer Days
Even before the short days and cold temperatures set in, people were dreading the onset of winter during a pandemic. But, as December 21 marked the longest night of the year, we are (albeit slowly) on the way to increased sunshine and balmier climes. Daylight savings time begins on March 14, when we will move the clock forward. Just a few days after that, spring will arrive, followed by sprouting bulbs, chirping birds and uplifted spirits.
- Prioritized Healthcare
Accompanying the nearly superhuman efforts of frontline workers during the pandemic were advances in healthcare that might otherwise have taken years to arrive. Telehealth technology has allowed patients to safely consult with medical professionals and receive necessary medications. Complex systems such as A.I. and network science have greatly increased applications in the healthcare realm. Governments have prioritized healthcare, and thousands upon thousands of important health studies have emerged. These encouraging trends stand to continue in 2021 and beyond.
Hope is as essential to human life as the air we breathe. Said Dr. Judith Rich, “Hope is a match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light, just enough to reveal the path ahead and ultimately the way out.” Given what we’ve been through in 2020, there are likely very few of us with little or no hope for 2021. It’s what keeps us going, what allows us to dream of the “agains” – the good kind, like gathering with friends again, hugging our grandchildren again, dining in our favorite restaurants again.
Hope’s counterpart is faith. If ever there was a year to build faith in humanity, it was 2020. In spite of all the political vitriol and social injustice, random acts of kindness sprang up in every corner of the earth – among family, friends, neighbors, and total strangers. The indescribable grit, compassion, courage, heart, and dedication demonstrated by the countless people inclined to care for others is truly awe-inspiring. As fellow human beings, we are capable of magic – even in the worst of times. And that is perhaps the best thing of all going into 2021.
Watch our brief video to see how IVY Marketing Group is using our 20/20 vision to look forward to 2021.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.
If we could have foreseen what was coming in 2020, we might not have believed our eyes.
But, as hindsight is 20/20, we have a long and clear view of a year like no other – and we can use that perspective to enter 2021 focused on what needs to happen in senior living.
But first, let’s take a look back at the remarkable achievements in senior communities across the country.
Professionals in senior living have created countless ways to keep residents active and engaged. They’ve adapted to restrictions and limitations with novelty and inspiration. They’ve learned to utilize technology in far-reaching ways and proven that not only is necessity the mother of invention, it is the springboard for programming that doesn’t stagnate in the face of sudden change; it flourishes.
Staff in senior communities were unsung heroes long before that became the standard praise. They have continued to come to work, day and night, keeping residents safe, entertained, cared for, and loved. They’ve rolled up their sleeves and taken on roles and responsibilities unique to this unprecedented time.
So, what does informed retrospection mean for your community in 2021?
- Your good news needs to be shared.
The media have not been kind to the senior living industry during the pandemic. Negative stories and statistics have flooded the news, reflecting senior living in an unflattering light, largely unfairly. The good happening in senior communities far outweighs the bad, and that message needs to shine for all to see.Change the narrative by telling your positive stories! Share your news of ever-vigilant safety measures, security and healthcare…of continued high quality of life amidst an unfathomable turn of events, intense scrutiny and epic challenges…of connections made and kept strong.Content marketing comes with a fully stocked toolbox of print and digital communications. By definition, this type of marketing does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services. Whether you’re targeting a hand-picked group of just a few or the broadest of audiences, quality content marketing can reach your prospects with impact and personal relevance.
The tools of the content marketing trade run the gamut from social media, press releases, feature stories and videos to blogs, podcasts, webinars, e-blasts, print and electronic newsletters, infographics, direct mail, ads, white papers, case studies, and more.
Leveraging the various channels of content marketing will counteract the steady stream of negativity surrounding senior living and put your good news in the spotlight.
- Your staff needs to feel valued and appreciated.
Staff longevity is a key criterion for prospective residents and their families looking for a senior living community. Happy staff members stay, and happy staff members are those who feel heard, respected, engaged, recognized, and cherished.The pandemic has presented unparalleled opportunities for stress and burnout. Letting your team know that you truly value them requires more than a smile or a passing word of thanks (though that’s certainly a good start). Intentional employee communications programs boost all-important staff retention, especially if they’re tailored to your unique community, culture and common causes. Regular incentives, initiatives and department/individual recognition tactics created specifically for your human resources will improve your bottom line by honoring your top employees.Because past and current staff members sometimes turn to employee websites to air grievances in the workplace, it is paramount to monitor those sites to stay apprised and ahead of potential conflict.
- Reputational damage must be mitigated.
“All the world’s a stage” is a line from a Shakespearean play, but it could also describe the endless opportunities social media affords anyone, anywhere, to speak their mind. Often, these words are not particularly praiseful. COVID-19 presents an even greater reputational risk to senior living communities, and appropriate response to reviews or comments on employee sites or social media is crucial to mitigating reluctance to move in or a drop in census.An even greater risk is actual crisis of any kind in a senior community, such as fire, contagion, cyberattack, etc., or a smoldering crisis (the most common), such as neglect, mismanagement, scandal, and the like.Regardless of the severity of onsite crisis or online reputational harm, negative attention on your community requires trained communication with all stakeholders. Crisis response is an art that cannot be ad-libbed or issued extemporaneously, lest even further damage be inflicted.
2021 is just around the corner. With 20/20 vision looking forward and 30 years of experience behind us, IVY Marketing Group can tell your great stories, inspire your teams, and provide trained response to – and monitoring of – reputational risk.
Let us start changing the sightlines of your community today! And watch for our new video about our 20/20 vision for 2021!
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.
Many words have been used to describe the year 2020: Unprecedented. Challenging. Difficult. Uncharted. Bizarre. (And a whole host of epithets not fit for publication.)
Blessed is not one of those words. It’s a pretty safe bet that this year isn’t going down in the history books as one for which to be particularly grateful. Yet, as Thanksgiving approaches, we find ourselves thinking about our blessings, those things we name around the harvest table. Even in 2020.
Senior living has had a tougher time than most industries navigating the strange new world of COVID-19. Countless negative stories in senior communities have fed reporters a steady diet of bad news for months, as well as some unscrupulous lawyers an opportunity for exploitation of the worst kind.
What good could possibly come from senior living in 2020? Plenty, if we really take a look.
COVID has brought forth abundant blessings from the wellspring of necessity, invention, and human goodness. This time of year, we at IVY would like to share some of our clients’ most hopeful stories from 2020.
Never before have essential workers faced more challenges and, at the same time, proven more heroic. Faithful staff and healthcare professionals in senior living have gone above and beyond anything previously imagined to keep residents physically, mentally and emotionally healthy – even during a pandemic.
Three Hundred Thirty-Five Years and Counting (Eastcastle Place in Milwaukee, WI)
Longtime Nursing Staff Is Family to Residents (The Danish Home of Chicago, IL)
Monticello West Senior Living Community Turns Things Around During COVID-19 (Monticello West in Dallas, TX)
Inspiration, ingenuity and resourcefulness have taken center stage during the pandemic, as both staff and residents have thought far outside the box for most of this year. They have conceived numerous novel ways to stay connected, engaged, and stimulated – all at safe social distances.
Fashion and Benevolence Go Hand in Hand (Monarch Landing in Naperville, IL)
GreenFields’ Own Lollapaloosa Event (GreenFields of Geneva, IL)
On a Hawaiian Cruise (Monarch Landing)
Hugs, One Cross Stitch at a Time (Friendship Village in Schaumburg, IL)
Creativity and Ingenuity (Eastcastle Place)
2020 has been an epically trying time, testing the limits of our patience, fortitude and hope for the future. Yet, the new decade has also inspired countless acts and expressions of human kindness. For all the strife in our world today, the present hard times have shown that most people are caring, helpful and inherently benevolent. The heartwarming stories that have come out of senior living this year, including an entire kindness campaign at one community, restore hope and faith.
Campaign of Kindness (Eastcastle Place)
Kindness Rocks (Monarch Landing)
Sharing the Love: Residents’ Grandchildren Bring Good Cheer (GreenFields)
Without virtual technology, we might all be at a very real loss during the time of coronavirus. Videoconferencing, webinars and online programming have enabled our work, school, social events, celebrations, healthcare, and more. Senior communities (and the residents living in them!) have embraced technology to an unparalleled degree. Virtual tours have allowed prospective residents and their families to safely explore senior communities, and online events and programs have proven to be successful alternatives to in-person experiences.
Bridging Generations Through Technology (Monarch Landing)
Touring Senior Living Communities During COVID (Friendship Village)
Danish Home Bonds Shine Through Second Virtual Event of the Year (The Danish Home)
Staying Active During Social Distancing (Friendship Senior Options)
Fabulous Food Service
In accordance with state and federal health guidelines, residents in senior living have needed to dine in their apartments instead of the outstanding restaurants and dining areas in their communities. While they have greatly missed eating with friends, they have received “room service” fit for a king or queen from friendly dining staff members delivering the same delicious, fresh cuisine they know and love. Even some local food establishments have brought meals to residents!
Friendship Village Steps Up to Serve Residents (Friendship Village)
McDonald’s Brings “Happy Meals” to Residents (Lexington Square of Lombard, IL)
GreenFields Steps Up to Serve Residents (GreenFields)
One of the greatest benefits of community senior living is the opportunity to make new friends, mitigating loneliness and isolation. COVID-19 has ushered in yet another avenue to new friendships: pen pal programs! Seniors and people of all ages, including teens, have been exchanging physical notes, cards and letters. In the process, they are making new friends through good, old-fashioned mail.
Old-Fashioned Pen Pal Letters Striking a Chord with Teens
Pony Express Pen Pal Program Still Going Strong
New Friends Can Make Your Retirement Years Golden
Loving Family and Friends
“Window” and “drive-up” visits have become part of our COVID lexicon. Family, friends and neighbors have found new ways to spend time with people in senior living. Special occasions like birthdays and holidays have not been foregone; they have been re-invented! And when outside visitation opportunities opened in some communities during the summer and early fall, spirits were lifted by safe social calls from loved ones in the fresh outdoors.
Close Encounters of the Loving Kind (GreenFields)
Outdoor Visits Bring Danish Home Loved Ones and Residents Together Again (The Danish Home)
Yes, We’ll Be Your Neighbor! (Friendship Senior Options)
Senior citizens have the unique advantage of a long view of life. They have seen a lot, experienced a lot, endured a lot. Unlike younger people, seniors can more easily put difficult times in perspective and realize that “this too shall pass,” and what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger!
Milwaukee Man Explains How He Stays Positive at the Age of 100 (Eastcastle Place)
Across the Ages: Why Intergenerational Relationships Mean So Much (Friendship Senior Options)
Studies have shown that sheer thankfulness is beneficial to overall health and well-being. While 2020 has brought with it many unanticipated concerns, there is comfort and healing in literally counting our blessings.
The Healing Power of Gratitude (Eastcastle Place)
Nothing pleases our IVY team more than bearing good news. Now more than ever, let us help your community be part of the larger – and true – story of joy and thanksgiving in senior living.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.