Wellness Warriors, we have entered a historical chapter of the pandemic. As the last year's crisis has changed the lives of so many people around the world, I can speak personally to how it has impacted all aspects of how our Aegis Living communities operate, care for, and serve our residents. We have been quick to modify or create new programs to meet our residents' needs while keeping them safe, healthy, and happy. We remain vigilant on our safety procedures and conducting more frequent testing across all communities to ensure we are doing all we can to fight the virus.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we assembled our own Aegis Coronavirus Advisory Council, made up of a group of best-in-class physicians from a variety of relevant backgrounds and several prestigious medical institutions deeply involved in the virus response—including Fred Hutch, the University of Washington, and the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. This group has been instrumental in providing Aegis with clinical guidance and advice at every stage of the pandemic to help us meet our goal of providing the safest environment for seniors anywhere.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
I am excited to announce that we are able to provide the first rounds of CDC- and FDA-approved vaccine from Pfizer in our partnership with CVS. This is a historic time in our company and for our country. We are seeing the transition and new light of hope shining around the world as well. On December 8th, Great Britain launched the global vaccination program, and the first vaccine was given to a 90-year-old grandma named Margaret Keenan. “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19,” said Ms. Keenan. “It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year, after being on my own for most of the year.” She stated that anyone offered the vaccine is to take it. Here at Aegis, we share in her sentiments and feel privileged to be among the first group to receive this vaccine.
On Monday, December 14th, the first coronavirus vaccinations took place here in the U.S., opening a new, hopeful chapter in the battle against this pandemic. Nearly 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have arrived at 636 locations in the country. The U.S. Government has identified the nation’s three million seniors in long-term care communities such as nursing homes, group homes, and assisted living as a high priority following the nation’s health care workers. We are thrilled that the CDC has recommended front line health care workers and seniors in long term care receive these first doses.
Our country has lost so many beloved seniors, and the CDC acknowledges this work and the care we have given to the nation’s most valuable population during this pandemic.
National statistics show 95 percent of the deaths as of December 20th struck those 60 years and older, but 50 percent of those deaths have occurred in people 80 years and older, many with preexisting conditions.
Our seniors are quarantined in our communities, but we know that nationwide they are getting the virus from employees who come and go. We also know that the pandemic has taken many people of color, particularly African Americans and the Latino communities. Here at Aegis, we have such a diverse workforce that we are enormously proud of. We want to ensure that every person in our employ is protected in every one of our communities. When the time comes, I will take the vaccine myself, and I recommend that as the vaccine becomes more readily available, my family and friends do the same.
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Knowledge Is Power
I believe the best decisions are rooted in the best information. I feel it’s important to listen to how the vaccine works straight from the experts. According to Dr. Anthony Faucci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, vaccines have saved hundreds of millions of lives over the years. This new virus is highly-efficient at spreading human to human with a considerable mortality rate. The vaccine provides a protective shield by stimulating an immune response ahead of any exposure to the virus. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the first vaccines using messenger RNA technology. It is different from traditional vaccines, often using a weakened or dead version of a virus or a laboratory-generated protein. Both vaccines use a snippet of the virus’s genetic code to instruct cells to build the spike protein on the virus’s surface, teaching the immune system to recognize the live virus.
Stephen Hahn, the FDA Commissioner, states that they will not cut corners when it comes to their gold standard of safety and effectiveness of the new vaccine. The FDA has released stats saying that the first-approved Pfizer vaccine was tested on 44,000 subjects, 95% effective after 2nd dose, and no safety concerns. For the vaccine to be effective, a person must have two doses of the vaccine, three weeks apart, and there is some level of protection ten days after the first dose. We are very encouraged by the latest developments around the vaccine. Clearly, fully-vaccinating all of our residents and team members will be a game-changer for our communities.
We are working closely with our pharmacy partner, CVS, to schedule the first of three clinics in each of our communities, where we will deliver the vaccine to our residents and teams. We are working as quickly as possible to confirm these clinics’ dates over the next few weeks.
It’s going to take all of us working together. Let’s embrace the best science that has been tested and proven to battle against this sophisticated virus. It’s a privilege to have this first vaccine. I invite you to join me in getting the first vaccine as soon as possible. Please do it for yourself, your family, and do it for each person in our community.
Until next time, Live Well, Live Long!