Good Samaritan Society’s chief medical officer says 50% of residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far.

The Society is working hard to protect everyone living and working at its locations. Gregory Johnson, M.D., says vaccination clinics, operated by Walgreens and CVS, are taking place daily at centers across the country.

Watch now: Dr. Gregory Johnson's Facebook Live Q&A

“We have 150-plus sites on the long-term care side. They’ve been to 79 as of today and about half of our residents are vaccinated. Super excited about that,” Dr. Johnson says.

Priority populations

The first priority is to get health care workers and long-term care residents the COVID-19 vaccine. After that, Dr. Johnson says the focus will shift.

“(Age) 75-plus is the next high-priority group. They’re mixed in a bit with health care workers depending on what state you’re in. Then, 65 and older or folks who have chronic medical conditions,” Dr. Johnson says.

Dr. Johnson says a survey shows Society employees are also choosing to roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine. Many say they want to protect residents.

“This makes so much sense. It’s so safe and it’s helpful to you, your family and your patients,” Dr. Johnson says.

Immunity and variants

Once you get the vaccine, you should have immunity for a long time.

“Eight to nine months is what people are saying conservatively,” Dr. Johnson says.

Dr. Johnson is also addressing the presence of COVID-19 variants around the globe and how that could impact communities here in the United States.

“We’re seeing that it’s more transmissible. We don’t see that it has increased hospitalization or worse disease once people get it,” Dr. Johnson says. “We don’t have worry that the vaccine will not be useful with those infections.”

Turning a corner

Ten months into the pandemic, Dr. Johnson says we are starting to turn a corner and there’s reason for excitement at Society locations.

“They’ll be some of the safest places. The highest concentration of COVID immunity in miles,” Dr. Johnson says.

Visitation restrictions are based on the rules and regulations of each state. Dr. Johnson says until those are rolled back, Society staff will continue finding creative ways for residents to interact with their families.

“We didn’t have anything to hang our hope on a month and a half or two months ago. Now we have an end in sight. We’re working toward it. We’re all trying to take steps to getting back to normal,” Dr. Johnson says.

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