Senior Housing Providers to Plan Booster Shot Clinics

Regulation | August 23, 2021 | by Juliana Bilowich

Affordable senior housing providers and other aging services providers can start planning now for booster shot clinics.

With the Delta variant surging in many parts of the country, booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccine may be needed to maintain strong viral protections. Subject to approval by the FDA and recommendation by CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), COVID-19 boosters will potentially be available for eligible vaccinated individuals. 

Affordable senior housing providers, home and community based services providers, and other aging services providers can start planning now to arrange shot clinics or booster shot access in the broader community for residents and staff. 

What are Booster Shots and Why Do We Need Them?

According to CDC information, the current COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe effects of the virus, hospitalization, and death. However, the Delta variant is leading to some reduced protections, and the Department of Health and Human Services is planning for "booster," or additional dose of vaccine, for already vaccinated people in order to maintain protection. 

Who Will Be Eligible for Booster Shots?

Similar to the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations, boosters will be available first to health care providers and those most at-risk for virus, including residents of long-term care communities and other older adults. If approved and recommended by federal health authorities, boosters would be given to eligible individuals about 8 months following initial vaccination. 

How Can I Help My Residents and Staff Access Booster Shots?

Unlike with the initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care providers in late 2020 and early 2021, the CDC will not be coordinating clinics for booster shots. Instead, housing provider, assisted living providers, home and community services providers, and other aging services providers will need to directly arrange for access to boosters. 

Similar to setting up an annual flu shot clinic, aging services providers can partner with local pharmacies to arrange for a booster shot clinics on-site, or can find information about accessing shots off-site in the broader community. 

What Steps Do I Need to Take to Arrange for a Booster Clinic On-Site?

Aging services providers like affordable senior housing can start by contacting local pharmacies or pharmacies you have worked with previously on either the flu or COVID-19 vaccine. 

  • Housing and other aging services providers can submit Walgreens' and other pharmacies' form of interest to host potential booster shot (and flu shot) clinics on-site
  • Aging services providers can start getting a sense of how many staff and residents are interesting in a booster shot. Keep in mind that some pharmacies may have a lower limit in order to organize a clinic (for example, no less than 30 doses), and that larger providers in general may find it easier to negotiate a clinic. Smaller providers can consider partnering with another housing/assisted living community to bring up their numbers, or inviting the family members of residents and staff. 

What Should I Do About my Unvaccinated Staff and Residents? 

With the Delta variant surging, initial vaccination is as important as ever. When surveying residents or staff on their booster shot interest, providers can include questions gauging interest in first shots, instead. Many pharmacies have reported offering first, second, or third shot to eligible people at the same clinic. 

Does It Matter Which Vaccine I Get for my Booster Shot?

Probably. CDC and other health authorities are still gathering data on this. Find out the latest on the CDC's booster shot webpage, and stay tuned for more resources from LeadingAge.