Photo courtesy Bayview
Photo courtesy Bayview

With the recent approval of COVID-19 vaccines from companies Pfizer and Moderna, 2020 is wrapping up on a high note for many who see them as an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

Not everything has gone smoothly, however, in the subsequent rollout of the vaccine programs, as questions over who can receive the vaccine and when are creating confusion.

That confusion is creating additional frustration at Queen Anne continuous care retirement community Bayview, , which offers a gamut of services from independent living to skilled nursing and assisted living all on one campus.

Bayview CEO Nancy Weinbeck said the facility has been receiving new information almost every day about vaccination rollout and when residents and staff will receive the inoculations.

“It changes almost minute by minute,” she said of the information being told to administrators.

As identified in Washington’s vaccination rollout plan, senior citizens and health care staff are two segments of the population who will receive COVID-19 vaccines first. Bayview has opted to partner with CVS Pharmacy to administer the vaccines at the facility in two phases, Bayview Health Services Administrator Joel Smith said.

The first phase —schedule 1A — will include three clinic dates. On the first, half the staff and half the skilled nursing and assisted living residents, including memory care, will receive the vaccines. They will receive booster shots 21 days later, when the second half of the staff and the skilled nursing and assisted living residents will receive their first vaccinations. On the third clinic date, 21 days following, the second group will receive their boosters.

The decision for only half of the staff members to receive vaccinations at a time was for a specific reason, Smith said.

In case staff experienced strong reactions and felt unable to work, others would still be available to tend residents and ensure facility operations. At the same time, residents receiving vaccinations is being divided to ensure staff can monitor them properly post-vaccination.

One segment of the Bayview population, however, is not included in the first round of vaccinations. Independent living residents are slated to be vaccinated in schedule 1B, with residents 75 and older to be vaccinated first. Smith estimates independent living residents younger than 75 will not be inoculated until around April.

“This creates a gap in services,” Smith said.

He said he does not know when the second phase of vaccinations at Bayview will even begin. The first round of vaccines is scheduled for Jan. 4, which was only confirmed Monday.

“We all have to exercise some patience, but from a managerial standpoint, it’s very frustrating,” Smith said.

Weinbeck shares Smith’s frustration and said many seniors in independent living feel the same way.

“For a CCRC like Bayview, where we’re all on one campus with everybody intermingling, it doesn’t really make sense that independent living residents were excluded,” she said.

Not to mention, she said, many independent living residents have serious health conditions, even more than other residents, that put them at grave risk for complications should they become exposed to COVID-19.

Smith said he has not heard too many concerns from residents about getting the COVID-19 vaccination, which he attributes to being accustomed to receiving new vaccines to combat serious illness, such as mumps, measles and small pox.

“The staff, on the other hand, is kind of an interesting situation,” Smith said.

Many staff members, especially younger ones, Smith said, have different ideas about vaccines and want to know more information before deciding. Some have already said they will not get the vaccine, and some say they want to wait while others are eager to be vaccinated.

“I think there’s more people who will get vaccinated than won’t,” Smith said.

As the program administrator, Smith said he just wants the staff with questions to make the most informed decisions possible using trusted agencies.

“If you want to find on the internet that the vaccine is a terrible thing, you’ll find that. If you want to find on the internet that the vaccine is a wonderful thing, you’ll find that too,” Smith said, adding he has been diligently steering staff to information from trust-worthy agencies.

Weinbeck said Bayview administration is not mandating staff receive the vaccination but is encouraging it. She said, because the vaccine is still new and a small percentage of people have had serious reactions to it, administrators want to give staff members the ability to choose for themselves.

“I think most people are going to opt in rather than opt out,” she said. “I think most people want to get vaccinated and get this global pandemic behind us.”