SENIOR ARTICLE – February 2021


Seniors in nursing homes have been in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, with their facilities in lockdown to prevent potentially fatal outbreaks. Now that they (some) are first in line to received COVID-19 vaccinations, it would be natural for nursing home residents to expect their friends & family will visit soon.

That might not happen! Uneven vaccination rates and unknowns related to the vaccines could mean that seniors in nursing homes will have to remain isolated for a while longer. It will be a while before there are enough people immunized to really start to see a reduction in risk, said Dr. Chris Beyer, a professor of public health & human rights with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore.

There’s a reason for caution as this challenging period there may not be enough vaccine and we will not have enough people immunized. People in long-term care facilities have accounted for 40% of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., even though they represent only 6% of overall infections.

The assisted care facilities are full of people with conditions that put them at high risk of a life-threatening COVID-19 infection. The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living said they are “extremely optimistic this vaccine will expedite the reopening of our facilities to family members and loved ones. They hope to discuss what next steps look like once the “second” dose of the vaccine is being widely delivered and administered to staff and resident across the country, but all of us are going to have to remain vigilant, even after the vaccine.
Health experts have stated the vaccine is safe and effective, but they do not yet know whether vaccinated individuals can still be carriers of the virus and infect others.

For now, it could still be months before nursing homes reopen for visitors. The best estimate is there will be enough vaccine for every adult in this country (who wants one) sometime between June/July 2021. The Fall may be much better for families in terms of resuming visits.

Brenda Dever-Armstrong, CEO/Owner/CSA
The Next Horizon Seniors & Military (Veterans/Spouses) Advocate/Resources/Locator

*(Sources): Chris Beyrer, MD, Professor of Public Health & Human Rights, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, American HealthCare Assoc/National Center for Assisted Living, statement