Latest news and updates on the COVID-19 vaccine.

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The COVID-19 Vaccine Comes to Senior Living

Kim Acosta
By Kim AcostaDecember 16, 2020
The COVID-19 Vaccine Comes to Senior Living

With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine and its priority distribution to senior living communities, a growing number of U.S. seniors in long-term care or senior living facilities will be protected from the coronavirus.

Nearly 61% of caregivers say they are planning for their senior loved one to get vaccinated, according to a recent survey by A Place for Mom. Phase 1 of vaccine distribution in the U.S. includes seniors currently residing in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living communities. “Our mission remains to enable caregivers to make the best decision about senior living for their loved ones. To fulfill this mission, we’re working with our network of more than 14,000 senior living communities to provide information about COVID-19 vaccine availability, process, and timing,” says Larry Kutscher, CEO of A Place for Mom.

5 vaccine-senior living milestones reached so far

In the first weeks of December, five critical vaccine-senior living milestones were reached:

  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of Pfizer’s vaccine in people 16 and older to prevent the coronavirus after reviewing evidence of safety and effectiveness.
  2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended health care workers and staff and residents of long-term care facilities (including senior living communities) receive the first, limited COVID-19 vaccine doses.
  3. Individual states ranked the order groups would receive the vaccine, generally following CDC recommendations.
  4. States requested activation of the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. Under this program, CVS and Walgreens will provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care facilities, including senior living communities.
  5. Pharmacies CVS and Walgreens began contacting communities to outline vaccine rollout plans.
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How interested residents will get the vaccine

The CDC has partnered with CVS and Walgreens to offer a series of on-site coronavirus vaccination clinics — typically three — in long-term care facilities, similar to flu vaccine clinics. This initiative will ensure COVID-19 vaccines are transported, stored, and administered by trained health care professionals. Vaccines will be given to consenting residents and staff during the clinics.

Older adults tend to report fewer and milder side effects of the vaccines.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ultimately, the pharmacies aim to schedule clinic dates 10 days or more in advance. However, in the beginning, that timeline is likely to be shortened, say CVS and Walgreens officials. As states receive their vaccine allotments and distribute them to pharmacies, senior living communities will be able to inform residents and families of when clinics will occur.

COVID-19 vaccine facts and benefits

A second coronavirus vaccine by Moderna is expected to be authorized in late December. Each state will determine which vaccine a senior living community receives. However, the two vaccines have much in common.

  • Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are more than 94% effective against the coronavirus, according to clinical trials.
  • Vaccine protection against COVID-19 is consistent in adults across age, gender, race, and ethnicity.
  • Both vaccines require two doses. The first dose begins to build immunity, while the booster strengthens protection.
  • Older adults tend to report fewer and milder vaccine side effects. These may include fatigue, injection site pain and swelling, and fever.
  • Both are messenger RNA — also called mRNA — vaccines. This means they teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies, according to the CDC. That immune response produces antibodies, which fight off the coronavirus when we come into contact with it.

“We believe the vaccine is so important to the ongoing protection and well-being of our communities that at minimum we are going to strongly recommend it for both staff and residents with limited exceptions,” says Bill Todd, public relations director for Louisville, Kentucky-based Atria Senior Living.

Can new residents moving in early 2021 be vaccinated at senior living facilities?  

Most likely, depending on when they move. Residents who move to senior living communities in December, January, and possibly February should be present for one of the first two vaccine clinics as well as the third.  

We’re working with our network of more than 14,000 senior living communities to provide information about COVID-19 vaccine availability, process, and timing.

Larry Kutscher, CEO of A Place for Mom

A Place for Mom offers up-to-date, local vaccine information

A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors are working with our extensive network of senior living providers to offer up-to-date information about vaccine plans at communities in your area.


Argentum. “COVID-19 Vaccine Readiness Briefing, Monday, December 14, 2020.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Importance of COVID-19 Vaccination for Residents of Long-term Care Facilities.”

Food and Drug Administration. “FDA Takes Key Action in Fight Against COVID-19 by Issuing Emergency Use Authorization for First COVID-19 Vaccine.”

 A Place for Mom. “Family Survey, December 2020.”

Kim Acosta
Kim Acosta

Kim Acosta is managing editor at A Place for Mom. She’s produced digital and print content for more than 20 years as an editorial leader at Shape magazine, P&G, Hallmark, and others. Her work has appeared in national media outlets including Family Circle, Parents, Lifescript, BuzzFeed, Living Fit, Natural Health,, and HomeCare.

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