people giving thumbs up from a car after having received vaccines
Staff members at Villas of Holly Brook Marshall, an assisted living community in Marshall, IL, operated by Meridian Senior Living, receive the company’s first COVID-19 vaccines.

National senior housing operator Meridian Senior Living on Wednesday joined a growing list of senior living providers in announcing a staff COVID-19 vaccine mandate, calling it “one more preventative measure” to maintain a safe and healthy environment.

“We strongly believe in our mission statement to ‘enrich the lives of our residents, families and employees,’ and fundamentally we need to stay healthy and embrace every precaution to carry out this pledge,” Meridian President and Chief Operating Officer Kacy Kang said in a release. “For our employees to roll up their sleeves and complete their vaccinations demonstrates an additional dedication to protect themselves, our residents and resident families.”

The company stated that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic —  particularly the spread of the delta variant — convinced leadership it was time to roll out a mandate. Meridian said its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health authorities to minimize the risk of spreading the virus in the workplace.

The company’s current 2,658 U.S. employees must complete their vaccinations by Sept. 17, according to the new requirement. New hires must complete their vaccinations within 45 days of hire. The company said it will support the process by “paying for all vaccinations and for the time taken to receive the vaccinations.”

Meridian said its current staff vaccination rate is 53%. Some of its California communities have 100% participation, with a state average vaccination rate of 72%. The company’s resident vaccination rate is 85%.

The company’s announcement came on the same day that the American Seniors Housing Association said it “strongly urges” vaccination and supports companies that institute mandates for residents and workers. 

LeadingAge and AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine have called for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for long-term care workers, and the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living and the American College of Health Care Administrators have announced that they “strongly” encourage it.

Meridian, based in Bethesda, MD, operates more than 75 communities nationwide and co-manages 24 communities in China. The operator joins a growing list of senior living companies that have put staff COVID-19 vaccine mandates in place. Others include Brookdale Senior Living, which announced a staff vaccine mandate last week, and PruittHealth, which operates independent living and assisted living communities in addition to nursing homes and announced a vaccine mandate on Monday.

Additional senior living companies requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for employees include Aegis Living, ALG Senior, American House Senior Living Communities, The Arbor Co., Ascension Living, Atria Senior Living, Benchmark Senior Living, CareOne, Civitas Senior Living, Enlivant, Episcopal Retirement Services, Five Star Senior Living, the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, Genesis HealthCare, Harbor Retirement Associates (for new employees), IntegraCare, Integral Senior Living, JEA Senior Living, Jewish Home Family, Juniper Communities, LCS, Masonicare, Pacific Retirement Services, Presbyterian Senior Living, Retirement Center Management, Silverado, Sunrise Senior Living, Trilogy Health Services, Trinity Health, Vi Living and Wesley Enhanced Living.