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Our first vaccine clinic, plus more of what to expect

resident at Highland Ridge receives COVID vaccine
Resident at Highland Ridge in IA receives vaccine at first COVID clinic at a PHS community
On this fifth day of Christmas, we share the glad tidings of our first COVID vaccine clinic! Residents and staff at Highland Ridge in Williamsburg, IA, were the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS).

With a theme, “Get a Shot, Take a Shot,” staff and local pharmacy providers administered over 200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to long-term care residents and staff who also had some fun shooting hoops. Meanwhile clinicians monitored residents for any possible allergic reactions.

Brandi Vercande, Fitness and Life Enrichment Director, shared photos from the day, noting, “We had them take a 'shot' with basketballs and scrub brushes, which they got to keep for themselves. There were lots of laughs, joy, cheer and excitement today here at Highland Ridge in Williamsburg!”

Highland Ridge Campus Administrator Brian Phillips receives vaccine
Highland Ridge Campus Administrator Brian Phillips receives vaccine
Campus Administrator Brian Phillips added, “It was an awesome day! I shed several tears on the way into Highland Ridge this morning, but once the vaccine arrived we just got to work pre-drawing syringes.” Phillips praised the team from Community Pharmacy and the way staff and residents cheered each other on, now 290 days since COVID precautions went into effect.

When can other PHS communities expect the vaccine?
PHS has been receiving regular updates from the pharmacies that are providing the on-site COVID-19 vaccine clinics through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care program. Each state is receiving allocations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and is making prioritization decisions based on the general framework provided by the CDC. The first group (phase 1A) includes healthcare personnel and long-term care residents. “Long term care” has been broadly defined to include assisted living, memory care and care centers (nursing homes), but so far, only care centers have been scheduled in the states where PHS operates.

The majority of PHS’s 21 care center locations (with 24-hour skilled nursing) have received their initial clinic dates ranging from December 28 through mid-January, with additional clinics planned a month later to administer the booster dose. None of PHS’s 22 locations with assisted living / memory care (which do not have a care center) have received their initial clinic dates, but these locations are receiving communications from pharmacies: to begin preparing consent forms and the on-site clinics, once states have sufficient vaccine supply to prioritize these settings.

team prepares vaccines at Highland Ridge
Team prepares first vaccines at Highland Ridge
The CDC has described the purpose of these on-site vaccine clinics being to reach the most vulnerable residents first, who often are mobility limited, and the caregivers who support them. While residents living independently in senior communities often interact with other residents and staff, the CDC is not opening up the first phase of on-site vaccine clinics to independent residents. However, the CDC encourages them to contact their health care providers to find out about receiving the vaccine in what is considered “phase 1B.”

Residents and staff at Highland Ridge received the Pfizer vaccine, but most PHS staff and residents can expect to receive the Moderna vaccine. Iowa is using a combination of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine in long-term care settings. Meanwhile, Wisconsin and Minnesota health departments have prioritized the Moderna vaccine for long-term care settings, given that it is easier to transport and manage compared to the Pfizer vaccine’s ultra-cold storage requirements.

Please join us in praying for all those working to administer this long-awaited vaccine. You can find answers to frequently asked questions on our COVID Vaccine FAQ page.

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