A Letter from Our CEO and Medical Director Regarding Vaccines
December 16, 2020
Enlivant Family Members,
COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic in the United States on March 11th of this year. Since then, over 15 million cases have now been confirmed in the United States. Sadly, over 300,000 precious American lives have been taken by this deadly virus.
Fortunately, we now have tremendous reason for optimism. We are delighted that Enlivant’s elderly residents, and our dedicated front-line employees, have rightfully been prioritized to be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
I encourage you to take a few minutes today to read the accompanying letter on this very topic from Enlivant’s medical advisor, Dr. Jonathan Evans. A graduate of the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Dr. Evans is board certified in Internal, Geriatric Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He has a deep background in public health and epidemiology with 30 years of experience. Given Dr. Evans’ clinical and academic credentials, combined with his hands-on experience dealing with this deadly virus, Enlivant has relied heavily on his expert guidance in our COVID-19 decision making since the inception of the pandemic.
Like Dr. Evans, I look forward to taking the COVID-19 vaccine, as will my immediate family and elderly parents. I will take it not only to protect myself, but also for those I love and care about in my life, including all of you. I will take the COVID-19 vaccine for our team members and residents, understanding you need and deserve a solution that will eliminate this virus. I hope, encourage and trust you will do the same.
As this pandemic continues to evolve, we remain committed to ongoing open and transparent dialogue with all Enlivant stakeholders. Together, we will emerge from this stronger, safer and healthier. Thank you again for the trust you have placed in Enlivant.
I can assure you we do not take that trust for granted.
Jack R. Callison, Jr.
Enlivant – Chief Executive Officer
December 16, 2020
Dear Enlivant colleagues, residents and families,
I am writing to you now with a strong sense of urgency regarding the development and upcoming rollout of two specific COVID-19 vaccines. Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines will effectively treat and help us bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic in our country. My sense of urgency does not just come from the fact that COVID-19 is the worst public health crisis in the United States in the last 100 years. My urgent need to talk to you is to address your potential fears. Not just fear of the virus itself, but the fear expressed by nearly half of all Americans: fear of the vaccine itself.
You are justified in being concerned about the safety of any medicine or vaccine that you put in your body. You are right to care about the safety of all medicines and all vaccines for yourself and those you love. And you are especially entitled to be concerned about these vaccines, considering they have been developed and tested in record time, during a vicious election year, amid growing distrust of politicians. I understand and initially shared similar concerns. That is why, as a trained epidemiologist and physician, I have taken it upon myself to very critically review the development of both vaccines, including the protocols used, the scientific studies backing their impressive efficacy rates, as well as many research studies of COVID-19 and its treatment.
- The Pfizer vaccine recently received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). The Moderna vaccine is expected to receive it imminently.
- I can say without any hesitation or doubt that the effectiveness and safety of these vaccines are the best that I have ever seen in more than 30 years as a physician. They have far exceeded my own very skeptical expectations.
- The 90-95% effective rate relative to the typical FDA standard of 50% is significantly better than the scientists who conducted the vaccine clinical trials expected.
- Based on data and facts, I am convinced that these vaccines are safe and effective, and I cannot wait to be vaccinated.
Beyond the science, why I will take the COVID-19 vaccine
Over the last nine months, I have seen with my own two eyes far too many people die from COVID-19. I have personally diagnosed them. I have sat at their bedside, and I have watched them die. Often, I did so because there was no one else, no family member to take my place. I have tried my best, often failing, to console their grieving families. In many instances, it was family members, who unintentionally and with no symptoms infected them, resulting in their death. I often think of the heavy weight they carry as a result.
My mother, whom I love dearly, is now 80 years old. I remember well as a child how she dutifully took me to get vaccinated against polio, measles and other diseases. She had seen the devastation caused by these horrific diseases for herself. At the time, she had to choose for me, and like so many other mothers, she overcame her own fears and protected me so I could be safe. I owe a lifetime of gratitude to my mother for this and for so many other reasons. Because of COVID-19, I have not been able to see her for nearly a year as I have been afraid to accidentally make her sick by unknowingly carrying the virus to her.
Looking forward, I am taking the COVID-19 vaccine for my mother, for all the residents we care for, and for each of you, so that I will never carry the weight of causing a tragedy. Based on science and facts, I have more confidence in both of these COVID-19 vaccines, than the dozens of previous vaccines I have personally received over my lifetime. I have even more faith in you, as a loving, caring and compassionate person. No one will make you take these vaccines, but as you probably know by now, because of the importance of your work, or as a respected elder living in an Enlivant community, you have been given the unprecedented privilege of being at the front of the line to receive this vaccine. Fortunately, we expect these vaccines to be available to Enlivant residents and team members as early as January. You have the opportunity to receive this vaccination before millions of Americans who are desperate to receive it.
I trust the COVID-19 vaccines and I trust you even more. I have faith that before making any decision about whether to take the vaccine, you will address your fears and concerns head on. I hope you do that with me or someone like me, who can carefully review the facts with you and talk through any unanswered questions you may have to make an informed decision. I know as part of the Enlivant family, you will do what you know is right to protect your loved ones and the loved ones of others, especially those whom you have the privilege to care for. I know that most of you will choose to be vaccinated but only after all of your concerns have been satisfied. Whatever you choose, I know that you will act out of love, not fear.
In closing, it is time for us to begin healing as country, both figuratively and literally. These COVID-19 vaccines are an excellent first step in that process. Thank you for your courage, and your caring. Despite this pandemic, the world and our Enlivant communities are a better, kinder place because of you.
Dr. Jonathan Evans, MD
Dr. Jonathan Evans, MD, serves as Enlivant’s Medical Advisor for guidance on protocols related to the COVID-19 outbreak. A graduate of Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Dr. Evans studied internal medicine and is a geriatric physician.