COVID-19’s renaissance is forcing many senior living operators to consider a move that could easily backfire.
Namely, whether to require vaccines as a condition of employment.
It’s well-known that finding and keeping employees in this field is no easy task. That challenge surely will become more difficult if workers and prospects are told they must comply with yet another mandate.
I talked with a friend who happens to be an operator, and he said such a rule might encounter problems with three different types of employees.
The most obvious are the naysayers. Those in this group simply do not believe in the merits of COVID-19 vaccines. Telling them they must get a shot amounts to telling them to get lost, he said.
A second group consists of those who remain informed. Yes, they are still among us. They simply don’t understand why they need a shot, he said.
Procrastinators make up the third group. These folks are not necessarily opposed to the vaccine, but they just can’t seem to find the time to actually get one, he noted.
Each of these groups presents its own set of headaches for an operator trying to run a 100% vaccinated community. Still my strong suspicion is that more operators are going to follow an example served up this week by Holiday Retirement. The nation’s largest independent living operator said its 6,300-plus employees must receive their first shot by Oct. 4 or seek employment elsewhere.
The move came one day after the Food and Drug Administration gave Pfizer’s–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine full approval.
“Making this decision now will help us more quickly achieve our goal of essentially completely vaccinated communities for the protection of our residents, staff, vendors and the public at large,” CEO Lilly Donohue said.
Holiday follows in the footsteps of the company that recently acquired it, Atria Senior Living; other large senior living operators such as Brookdale Senior Living, Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society and Sunrise Senior Living; as well as smaller operators (you can see a list of some of the companies at the end of this article).
Will other operators follow their lead? My best guess is that although many if not most large operators will, some won’t. Resistance may run especially high in rural areas, and/or places where opposition to vaccinations runs deep.
As for those who think the naysayers might be easily swayed, I invite you to watch this clip of former President Trump being booed in Alabama last weekend by some of his most ardent supporters.
What terrible thing did he do to earn such a full-throated rebuke? He asked them to “take the vaccines.”
So yeah, this fight is far from over. And you can bet there are going to be many more casualties to come.