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Frequently Asked Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccines

It is an honor for Sequoia Living communities to be among the first to have access to the historic COVID-19 vaccines. Although much work remains to be done to fully halt the spread of the virus, the vaccines represent a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve created this page to respond to some of the most frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Last Updated: January 19, 2021.

Q: Is Sequoia Living making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for staff and residents?
Because the vaccine is still in the early stages of distribution and our staff is being very receptive to receiving the vaccine, Sequoia Living is not currently mandating the vaccine for staff members. Once the vaccine has become more widely available, we may revisit this stance.

Sequoia Living cannot mandate that residents get vaccinated. However, we will continue to highly encourage all staff and residents to take the vaccine and provide ongoing education about why this is important. As mentioned above, most staff are agreeing to take the vaccine.

Q: What happens if a Sequoia Living staff member refuses the COVID-19 vaccine?
At this time, if a Sequoia Living staff member chooses to not take the COVID-19 vaccine, we will work directly with that person to understand the reasons for their reluctance. We will address these situations on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Can Sequoia Living disclose which staff members or residents have declined the COVID-19 vaccine?
No. Sequoia Living cannot disclose the individual names of staff members or residents who decline the vaccine. However, to continue to safeguard residents, customers, and employees, strict protocols around mask wearing and other protective measures will be in place.

Until all residents and staff have had the opportunity to opt into receiving the vaccine and local case counts have substantially decreased, we all must continue to follow the current protocols of mask wearing, social distancing, and practicing hand hygiene.

Q:How do we know that the vaccines are safe since they have been developed so quickly?
A: Safety is the most important requirement for the COVID-19 vaccines and is assessed in trials by independent experts. Although the COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly as part of the Emergency Use Authorization, no safety steps were skipped. COVID-19 vaccine development happened so quickly because it was a global effort of the world’s leading scientists with nearly unlimited resources, and a large pool of diverse adult trial participants.

The FDA advises a minimum of 3,000 participants in a trial of a vaccine to assess its safety. For the COVID-19 phase 3 trials there have been 30,000 to 50,000 participants rather than just 3,000. This gives scientists a robust amount of data to rely on when assessing the safety of potential COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA also requires 8 weeks of safety monitoring.

Q: Could the vaccine give me COVID-19?
A: No. The COVID-19 vaccine cannot give you a COVID-19 infection. The vaccine is not made from a live virus. The vaccine works by helping your body create antibodies to fight off the virus. Feeling discomfort after getting the vaccine means that the vaccine is doing its job and your body is making antibodies.

Q: What side effects do the vaccines have?
A: Participants in clinical trials reported experiencing short-term side effects after being vaccinated, with more pronounced discomfort after the second dose. These possible side effects are normal and common, and include headache, muscle pains, fatigue, chills, fever, and pain at the injection site.

Q: How many doses of the vaccine will I need?
A: Most of the COVID-19 vaccines require two separate doses given about three or four weeks apart, depending on the vaccine. You must get the second dose to be protected.

Q. When and for how long will I be protected if I get the vaccine?
A. Protection occurs about two weeks after the second dose. Before that time, you could still contract the actual COVID-19 virus. We will most likely not know how long the vaccine will be protective once we receive it. We will know more as more time passes in the current research.

Q: Will I still need to wear a mask and social distance after I get the vaccine?
A: Yes. As with other vaccines, a very large number of people in the community will need to get vaccinated before transmission drops enough to stop the use of masks and social distancing.

Q: Where can I learn more about COVID-19 and the vaccine?
A: It’s important to get vaccine information from reputable sources, such as the CDC.gov website, local and state departments of public health, or your personal doctor. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of misinformation about COVID-19 being shared on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media.

Here are some helpful links about the COVID-19 vaccine:

CDC: COVID Conversations: Answering Patients’ Questions 

CDC: Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccinations

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