Illustration: Long-Term Care Facility Staff

Preparing Staff for COVID-19 Vaccination

For LTCF administrators and clinical leadership

Long-term care facility (LTCF) administrators and clinical leadership are encouraged to use the information and resources below to educate all staff members about the importance of COVID-19 vaccination.

Emphasize that Vaccinating Long-Term Care Facility Staff Will Save Lives

Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is an important step to protect LTCF staff members and reduce their chances of becoming sick with COVID-19 disease. LTCF staff are on the front lines may be exposed to COVID-19 each day on the job.

LTCF staff were placed first in line to receive vaccine because of their essential role in fighting this pandemic. Vaccinating all LTCF staff now will help protect them from getting sick and protect residents who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Early protection of staff is critical to preserve LTCFs capacity to care for residents. In addition, staff can serve as role models in their communities. By getting vaccinated first, they can positively influence the vaccination decisions of coworkers, residents, friends, and family.

Encourage Open Communication Among All Staff

LTCF staff may have lots of questions or concerns about vaccine safety and side effects. Making time for open, honest discussions about the vaccine across job areas in your facility can help address staff questions and concerns. These discussions can also help you gather input on how to best build vaccine confidence within your facility. Understandably, you may not have answers to all their questions, but creating a feedback mechanism to provide answers in the future can be helpful.

Explain Staff Options for Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

Many LTCFs have enrolled in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, which aims to facilitate safe and efficient on-site COVID-19 vaccination clinics at LTCFs. Through this program, facility staff and residents will have an opportunity to get vaccinated on site.

Regardless of whether their facility is participating in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, all LTCF staff members are prioritized and eligible for vaccination. Staff members who are not present for on-site vaccination clinics may choose to get vaccinated by another COVID-19 vaccination provider that is vaccinating healthcare personnel in their area.

  • Everyone who gets vaccinated will get a vaccination record card to ensure they receive the correct vaccine for the second dose.
  • Helpful tips are available to help staff know what to expect when getting vaccinated.
  • Pharmacies participating in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program may also have helpful information for facilities to distribute to staff.

Staff being vaccinated will receive an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet before vaccination explaining the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccine. EUA Fact Sheets are specific to each authorized COVID-19 vaccine, are developed by the manufacturer of the vaccine, and are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some COVID-19 vaccination providers may require written, email, or verbal consent from recipients before vaccination. This is at their discretion; written consent is not required by federal law for COVID-19 vaccination in the United States.

Provide Key Messages About Vaccine Effectiveness and Safety

Providing these consistent and clear messages about COVID-19 vaccine safety can help increase vaccine confidence among staff and residents in your facility:

  • COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same safety standards as all other vaccines.
  • The federal government has been working since the pandemic began to make one or more COVID-19 vaccines available as soon as possible while ensuring they are safe and effective through the FDA EUA authority.
  • COVID-19 vaccines were tested in large studies that included tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect people of different ages, races, and ethnicities.
  • The study results showed that the vaccines provided protection from COVID-19.
  • Several expert and independent groups evaluate the safety of vaccines being given to people in the United States.
    • Before authorization, FDA carefully reviews all the effectiveness and safety data from clinical trials, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent body of medical and public health experts, reviews all data before recommending use.
    • After authorization, FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the safety of vaccines through existing and enhanced systems.

For more information, check out the Vaccine Safety Monitoring and Reporting in Your Facility section of the toolkit.

COVID-19 vaccines will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic. However, even after vaccination, everyone should continue to follow all the current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, following facility guidance on visitation and infection control, and cleaning hands often.

Distribute COVID-19 Vaccination Resources

Facilities can use or adapt these ready-made materials to build confidence about COVID-19 vaccination among facility staff:

Additional strategies for building vaccine confidence include:

  • Photograph or film facility administrators, the medical director, director of nursing, and unit managers being vaccinated and sharing the photos and videos with staff, with permission.
  • Encourage staff members who have been vaccinated to share the reasons why they chose to get vaccinated at staff meetings, in blog posts, or through other communication channels.
  • Organize contests or incentives to get vaccinated (small gift cards, raffle prizes, pizza parties, etc.).
  • Remind and encourage staff members who have yet to be vaccinated to get a COVID-19 vaccine via e-mails, letters, telephone calls, or in person requests.
  • Make sure staff members know where they can go to ask questions about the vaccine, either in person, by phone, or via email.
  • Host virtual town hall meetings for staff to share their questions and address their concerns.

Educate Staff About Post-Vaccination Symptoms and Policies

It may be hard to tell the difference between side effects from the vaccine and symptoms of COVID-19. It will be important to educate staff on the most common side effects from vaccination and let them know that side effects should go away on their own within a few days.

  • Explain that side effects are signs that the vaccine is working, and the immune system is building protection against infection.
  • This fact sheetpdf icon will help staff members know what to expect after getting vaccinated, including when to seek medical care.
  • Remind staff that the vaccine cannot give someone COVID-19 and it will not cause them to test positive on a COVID-19 viral test.

Facility administrators should work with staff to report any health problems that occur after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)external icon, even if unsure the vaccine caused the health problem. We call these types of health problems possible side effects or adverse events. Although very rare, there have been reports of a few severe allergic reactions (for example, anaphylaxis) in individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare professionals are required by law to report certain adverse events after COVID-19 vaccine.external icon For more information on how the vaccine safety is monitored in the U.S., visit CDC’s website on Ensuring the Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines in the United States.

In addition, encourage staff to enroll in v-safe, a smartphone tool they can use to receive health checks and to tell CDC if they have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If they report serious side effects, someone from CDC will call to follow up. Information on the v-safe after vaccination health checker is available in several languages, including English, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, and Simplified Chinese.

Staff may be worried about what to do if they experience side effects after getting vaccinated. It is important to be transparent about your facility’s policies around managing side effects, including taking time off if staff members do not feel well enough to work. Facility leadership should consider providing staff with clear guidance about workforce management and safety and be open to discussions about the policies. CDC has released guidance, which includes strategies to effectively manage post-vaccination systemic symptoms and limit unnecessary work restrictions.

Page last reviewed: December 23, 2020