We continue to be on a long journey to end the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, Arizona Department of Health Services reported 5,859 new coronavirus cases and 153 additional deaths. The number of deaths was the second-highest single-day report during this pandemic, and the fifth time in seven days with triple digits. As we have experienced in the past months, COVID-19 is highly contagious and poses a serious health risk.
During these past two weeks, even as infections and deaths have risen in Arizona and across the country, we are witnessing remarkable news that two new vaccines to prevent COVID-19 (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) have been approved for emergency use and several more vaccines are coming down the road. It is nothing short of miraculous. We have hope.
And Beatitudes Campus is on tap to receive an injection of hope next week. In partnership with CVS, our skilled nursing residents and front-line staff have the opportunity to receive the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday, December 29, when CVS will be setting up a Vaccine Clinic at the campus. The clinic for the second dose is scheduled for Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Currently, as we know now, our Assisted Living residents and front-line staff have the opportunity to receive the vaccine sometime after January 4. We will share the exact date when we are notified. The vaccine supply is expected to increase steadily in 2021, and Beatitudes Campus, in partnership with CVS or other pharmacy providers, will act to make the vaccine available to everyone who wants it in the coming weeks.
You probably have seen and read information about the vaccines, but I’d like to share with you how the vaccine works. The goal of any COVID-19 vaccine is to expose the body to an antigen which induces an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies to block or kill the virus if a person becomes infected. After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you develop immunity to that disease without getting COVID-19.
Are the vaccines safe? All COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different races, ethnicities, and ages, including adults over the age of 65. There were no serious safety concerns. The most common side effects were pain at the injection site and signs and symptoms like fever and chills. After a review of all the available information, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given both the Pfizer and Moderna an emergency use authorization and determined that both of these vaccines’ life-saving benefits outweigh any possible risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are conducting ongoing safety monitoring and an additional layer of safety monitoring has also been added that allows the CDC and FDA to evaluate COVID-19 vaccines’ safety almost immediately.
The CDC has a very informative website about vaccines at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html. There you can find out about the vaccine safety, efficacy, distribution program and frequently asked questions. CVS Health also has comprehensive information about the vaccine that you can access at
https://info.omnicare.com/rs/095-VIX-581/images/COVID-19%20Vaccination%20FAQs_V2.pdf. Links to these sites will be posted on the Beatitudes Campus’ website (https://beatitudescampus.org/beatitudes-family/), click on the “Links and Information” button. If you don’t have access to a computer, please call and we will get you a printed copy of whatever information you want.
These COVID-19 vaccines have given us hope that we can protect ourselves, our residents and staff and our greater community and put an end to this pandemic. They are giving us a veil of protection against COVID-19. The vaccines are not the total answer – we must still mask up, social distance and wash our hands to protect each other. But they are giving us hope that there is light in sight, hope of a better future and hope that we no longer will need to live in fear.
Beatitudes Campus continues to see an increase in cases, which has doubled last week’s number of cases. As of today, we have 31 cases on campus – 20 staff and 11 residents. The individuals infected are across all campus areas. We continue to aggressively test staff and residents in our licensed areas as it is one of our tools to mitigate the spread. I urge everyone to take the highest precautions and think thoroughly about family visits over the upcoming holidays. Please consider essential visits only. We have done contact tracing for all the infected individuals and have found out that the spread last week was mainly due to family and group gatherings, and this week it is similar, but infection is beginning to be person-to-person here on campus. This past week, four staff (2 administrative staff and 2 caregivers) in Assisted Living/Early Memory Support tested positive for COVID-19. A CNA and member of administration in the Health Care Center tested positive. One Beatitudes at Home caregiver, one Beatitudes Home Health CNA, and one security guard have tested positive. This past week, four residents tested positive for COVID-19. Two residents live in Plaza View/Assisted Living and one in the Health Care Center and one lives in Central Park. The two residents in Plaza View are currently in the hospital for treatment. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those infected with COVID-19 and their families.
Your behavior and actions are crucial in the next two weeks particularly. Please don’t take down your guard, and try to avoid crowds and large gatherings indoors. We have come through the past months and we will get through the next months together.
Please have a blessed holiday. I pray that our strength is our hope.
My very best to all of you this holiday season,
Michelle Just, President & CEO