Marie Branham, an Atria Springdale employee, was one of the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination Dec. 21 in Louisville, KY. (Photo courtesy of Atria Senior Living)
Louisville, KY-based Atria Senior Living and its recent acquisition, Winter Park, FL-based Holiday Retirement, have reached staff vaccine participation levels of almost 100% across a combined today of more than 430 communities in the United States and Canada, Atria announced Monday night.
The participation rate includes employees who have had at least one vaccine dose, those in the vaccination scheduling process, and those who are fully vaccinated
Atria Chairman and CEO John Moore discussed the company’s commitment to the vaccine at a second annual “virtual town hall” meeting with Mayo Clinic Laboratories recently. The virtual discussion was videotaped and is being shared with residents, families and staff members at all of Atria and Holiday communities.
Atria was an early decider on making vaccination mandatory, announcing its decision in January. Holiday, which was acquired by Atria earlier this year but operates separately, announced its decision in August, one day after full approval of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration.
“We’re incredibly proud of how Atria and Holiday employees responded to our decision to go with total vaccination. In fact, Lilly Donohue’s Holiday team got to near-full vaccine participation in less than two months from start to finish,” Moore said, adding that residents and staff deserve to live and work in vaccinated environments.
“COVID’s not over. We need to be vigilant,” he said.
Companies need to work through opposition to the vaccine from some people, Moore said, adding that opposition didn’t seem to be regional or political, in his opinion.
“It’s interesting to me that younger people just had a hard time deciding that they wanted to take the vaccine. People my age or even a little younger or older, everyone was pretty much ready to take the vaccine as soon as it was available,” Moore said. “I’m of a generation where polio was not a distant memory. We took vaccines as a matter of course.”
Moore and Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D. of Mayo Clinic Laboratories stressed the need not only for the COVID-19 vaccine, but for annual flu shots as well.
“The reason for that is because those two viruses cause a very similar disease, especially early on in the disease course,” Binnicker said. “We have to be smart and be safe. Taking advantage of the flu and booster clinics as well as simple things we’ve all learned along the way, like hand-washing, distancing and masking are easy things to do.”
Moore said he was hopeful that [at] Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and other celebrations, we will be able to see loved ones and be together.”