High COVID booster rates help residents stay safer

From day one, residents at the Good Samaritan Society have been early adopters of COVID-19 vaccines.

“The vaccine has made a tremendous difference. I would recommend getting the vaccine and boosters to everybody,” Gordy Lovell, Good Samaritan Society – Sioux Falls Village resident, says.

Gordy remembers the beginning of the pandemic and life at the center before COVID-19 vaccines.

“God bless them, we lost quite a few people due to COVID. I lost four people who I considered my friends. I miss them to this day,” Gordy says.

He adds getting the vaccine and the booster helps protect you and your loved ones.

'Testament' to forward-thinking residents

Right now, more than 90% of Society residents are fully vaccinated and nearly 90% have received their booster shot. Chief Medical Officer Gregory Johnson, M.D., says the Society’s booster numbers are way ahead of the industry average, which is 63%.

“I’m exuberant that our vaccination rate is that high," Dr. Johnson says. "It’s a testament to the forward thinking of our residents and communities, our staff that have supported the effort.

"When you think about a building where 85-100% of the residents there have been vaccinated and/or boosted, that’s a safe place.”

Boosted nursing home residents are 10 times less likely to get COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.“The booster is an extra layer of protection,” Dr. Johnson says. “We saw omicron come through and we have good data that says those folks who went ahead and got the booster, go from 35% efficacy against omicron up to 75% efficacy.”

'Absolutely saving lives'

Working closely with pharmacy partners, the Society can offer booster shots to residents and staff right at their locations.

“We’ve been really intentional about making sure that we had access to the booster and before that access to vaccination. We also are really proactive about tracking when people are in their window if you will,” Dr. Johnson says.

When residents and staff are eligible for the booster, Dr. Johnson urges them to act.

“It’s absolutely saving lives. There’s no doubt in the mind of anyone looking at the data that people who get vaccinated, people who get boosted die less, get hospitalized less, have severe symptoms less,” Dr. Johnson says.

“I think people all have different motivations for getting the vaccines but the message is still clear that right now in the face of omicron, getting boosted or getting vaccinated is the right thing to do."

Thinking more about those closest to him, Gordy agrees.

“Your family has to be important to you. Know your family doesn’t want to see you get sick and pass away,” Gordy says.

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