Masked man in blue shirt receives vaccine

Senior living providers experiencing breakthrough COVID-19 cases following vaccination clinics say it is “frustrating” to see positive results, but they credit vaccines with limiting symptoms in residents.

Congregation of St. Joseph Mount St. Mary, an independent living and assisted living community in Wichita, KS, confirmed in a Facebook post that five residents and two staff members recently tested positive for COVID-19. All residents were asymptomatic and were placed in isolation, and the two staff members are quarantining in their homes. 

“We have and continue to follow all health department and CDC safety protocols in order to protect all who live and work at the center,” the post reads. “This includes having staff temperatures taken at the start of each shift, and using personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and gowns. Our priority continues to be the health, safety and care of our sisters and residents.”

No new positive cases were found during testing completed on April 22, the operator said. The positive cases were detected during routine testing the week before.

Valley Senior Living in Grand Forks, ND, which offers a continuum of care, similarly experienced breakthrough cases among 12 of its fully vaccinated skilled nursing residents. All were asymptomatic but tested positive in recent weeks, according to President and CEO Garth Rydland. 

Nine cases were at the Valley Senior Living on Columbia, and three cases were at Woodside Village — both skilled nursing facilities. Rydland told McKnight’s Senior Living that 10 residents had recovered without any COVID-related symptoms. Two others remain asymptomatic and should be returning to their neighborhoods on Wednesday, he added.

“While it is frustrating to get these positive results through our routine testing, it is amazing to see that the residents are not having symptoms during their active infection,” Rydland said. “In fact, we would have never known that any of these residents were positive if we were not testing everyone.”

There have not been any clear contact tracing scenarios to determine how the virus entered the community, he said, adding that previous outbreaks coincided with an increase of active cases and positivity rates in the community.