As a health care ministry, Moravian Manor Communities’ priority is the safety and health of our residents, staff, and visitors. One of the key defenses against this pandemic has been the COVID vaccines.
Since their Federal Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in late 2020, MMC has encouraged residents, staff, volunteers, and visitors to get the vaccines. Currently, over 95% of our residents and 76% of our team are fully vaccinated, significantly higher than County and State norms. I thank you and most of our staff for taking this vital step to keep loved ones and the community safe.
As the newer and highly contagious Delta variant has shown locally and globally, we now need to take further measures to protect the health and well-being of residents and staff. On Monday, August 23, the Food & Drug Administration gave full approval for the Pfizer vaccine (the one most of you received here on March 5 and 26). And recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) clarify that community-wide immunization is a crucial next step to overcoming this pandemic.
Therefore, MMC has required all staff and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 8, 2021. In making this decision, we are joining a rapidly expanding group of retirement communities and health care providers across the country who recognize the importance of COVID vaccination to protect those in their charge as well as the broader community. Locally, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health announced similar steps this summer. MMC is pleased to be part of a group of eight Life Plan Communities now complying with these CDC and CMS recommendations.
COVID vaccination will now be a condition of employment, just as vaccination against other dangerous health threats has long been required for MMC employees. In addition, our policy will recognize authorized medical and religious exemptions, and unvaccinated staff can receive the vaccine through our pharmacy provider (Phoebe) or at a provider of their choice.
Along with the vaccine mandate, MMC will continue to take extra precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including supplying employees with appropriate personal protective equipment and following the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid screening measures. We will continue to protect residents and staff proactively through masking directives, social distancing measures, frequent cleanings, and visitor precautions. In addition, we regularly test staff and residents for COVID-19 based on current protocols.
I realize this announcement will be difficult for some of our staff to absorb. However, this is a crucial step to keep our residents and coworkers as safe as possible. Moravian Manor Communities’ Vision Statement is “To be a unique Community within a Community that excels at anticipating and accommodating the changing lifestyles, expectations, and the needs of the people we serve.” This statement drives our decision-making.
We sincerely hope and expect that most unvaccinated staff will understand the urgency and take comfort in the knowledge that the Pfizer vaccine has now received full and final approval by the FDA. In addition, hundreds of millions of individuals have used the vaccines under the Emergency Use Authorization. However, there may be a few individuals who choose to seek employment elsewhere due to our decision. If so, I ask for your patience while we work quickly to address staff shortages.
For those of you seeking additional information on COVID-19, continuous updates are available at the following websites:
Pennsylvania Department of Health: www.health.pa.gov
Center for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov