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Senior care facilities prepare for vaccine

Around the globe, there are now five vaccines being delivered with the goal of stopping the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic ravaged the world, including the United States, throughout 2020.

The vaccines include the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Sputnik 5, Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.

Pfizer, an American company, teamed up with the German BioNTech to develop and produce a vaccine that requires two injections several weeks apart to immunize.

ModernaTX, an American company, manufacturers the Moderna vaccine. ModernaTX received emergency use authorization Dec. 18, 2020, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This vaccine also requires two injections. Pfizer received the same authorization November 2020.

The Russian Federation vaccine called the Sputnik 5 was the first vaccine provided to humans outside of trials. The vaccine did not complete phase 3 clinical trials before rolling out, which raised early questions about its safety. Sputnik 5 also requires two doses for immunization.

Two vaccines have been developed in China. One is produced by a Chinese state company called Sinopharm, and a second vaccine developed by a Chinese-based company is called Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Third-phase trials of both vaccines are in the process. Both vaccines require two doses, weeks apart.

There is another vaccine in phase 3 trials that is a partnership with Canada and China called CanSino Biologics. This vaccine is a single-dose vaccine and is expected out to the public perhaps in March or April.

Additionally, Johnson & Johnson has a vaccine in phase 3 clinical trials. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires only one shot. It is expected to receive emergency use authorization in February.

Another phase 3 vaccine that also might hit the public soon is one developed jointly and being clinically tested by Astra-Zeneca and Oxford University, England.

Some Lehigh Valley residents began receiving the Pfizer vaccine in December 2020. These are essential health care workers and senior citizens in nursing homes and other facilities serving the elderly.

The Pfizer vaccine along with the Moderna vaccine will be used to vaccinate most people in the United States over the coming months.

Sacred Heart Senior Living by the Creek and Renaissance Home, both located in Northampton, are preparing to receive the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine, expected to arrive as early as this month.

Both Sacred Heart and Renaissance will allow residents and staff to opt out of taking the vaccine. Taking the vaccine, at this point, is not mandatory. Also, they are not offering any financial incentive for staff to be vaccinated.

Gracedale, the Northampton County skilled nursing facility, is offering a $750 bonus to staff to take the vaccine. The facility was hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

Michele Moser, longtime administrator at Renaissance, noted her leadership team discussed the importance of staff taking the vaccine in preparation for the vaccine rollout.

“I have staff asking when they can get the vaccine,” Moser said. “I expect maybe an 80-percent staff compliance rate.”

Renaissance, under Moser’s leadership, has been successful in managing the pandemic as evidenced by no COVID-19 outbreaks in the facility.

Moser is planning to team up with CVS to have its pharmacy staff provide the injections and help monitor results.

Richard Schmidt, human resources supervisor at Sacred Heart, noted his staff who chose to receive vaccinations have already been vaccinated. Vaccines were provided at St. Luke’s University Hospital, Allentown.

When the vaccines are delivered to Sacred Heart, Schmidt said his professional staff or St. Luke’s staff will administer the vaccine to those who agree to accept it.

After educating the Sacred Heart staff, Schmidt expects a more than 50-percent compliance rate.

Both Sacred Heart and Renaissance, formerly called Northampton Village, have had a presence in the borough for many years.

Schmidt and Moser expressed hope that when both of their facilities engage in vaccinations, they will play a role in ending the pandemic.

PRESS PHOTOS BY BILL LEINER JR. Sacred Heart Senior Living by the Creek, Northampton, along with other senior care facilities, is preparing for its staff and residents to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the interest of community safety.
Renaissance Home, also located in Northampton, is ready for the arrival of the vaccine. The facility reported it had no COVID-19 cases.