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COVID-19 Vaccinations for Senior Housing Settings

Vaccinations for residents living in and staff working in public and private low income and affordable housing for older people

Residents and staff of public and private low income and affordable senior housing are included in the first tier of Phase Two of vaccine deployment in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which we anticipate to begin in February. 

Public and private low income and affordable senior housing is defined as any residential premises available for lease by older or disabled individuals which is financed or subsidized in whole or in part by state or federal housing programs established primarily to furnish housing rather than housing and personal services. Specifically, this includes the following types of housing properties:

  • Public housing properties designated primarily for older adults that are owned/operated by Local Housing Authorities. This includes those public housing properties owned by a Housing Authority but managed by a private company. 
  • Privately owned properties designated for older adults that are financed in whole or part through resources made available from DHCD, MassHousing, or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and in which the majority of units are restricted to residents earning less than 80% of Area Median Income.

“Residents” include those household members currently on the lease for a rental unit in public and private independent affordable senior housing.

“Staff” includes all persons, paid or unpaid, working or volunteering at each of the qualified housing locations, who have the potential for exposure to residents or to infectious materials, contaminated environmental surfaces, or contaminated air. 

Additional information can be found in COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Guidance for Public and Private Low Income and Affordable Senior Housing.

There are three vaccination options for staff and residents of properties that not included in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program with CVS and Walgreens. These options include:

  1. Organizations may leverage existing pharmacy partnerships or an existing relationship with a medical or community health provider to offer an on-site clinic; or
  2. Organizations may contact their Local Board of Health (LBOH), if the Board is running clinics, to discuss capacity to provide an on-site clinic; or
  3. Residents and staff may schedule an appointment at a provider location, pharmacy, or a Mass Vaccination Site. Additional pharmacy, provider and mass vaccination sites will come on line in the coming weeks. 

To learn more about the currently available COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the CDC websites on the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Both vaccines require two doses for an individual to be fully vaccinated. It is critical that the second dose be the same as the first dose. Individuals must receive their second dose within a specified time frame and from the same location that they received their first dose.

Table of Contents

Vaccine Deployment Options

To facilitate deployment of multi-dose vaccines to residents and staff in affordable senior housing several options are available. Some combination of the options below may be necessary for a property to assist in the vaccination of residents and staff. 

Option #1: Leverage Existing Pharmacy Partnerships or other Medical Provider Relationships 

Owners or property managers may have existing partnerships with local pharmacies through regular flu vaccine clinics, and/or with local hospitals, health care practices, community health centers, university health centers, ambulance providers or visiting nurse agencies; these partnerships may be leveraged to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Owners/managers are encouraged to contact existing health care partners to determine if these partners have the capacity to operate a vaccination clinic on-site at the housing property or the ability to arrange for a special vaccine clinic for your residents at a mutually agreeable location. If you identify a clinical partner, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) will work with you to ensure your clinical partner is allocated vaccines. 

Option #2: Partnership with Local Board of Health

Some local boards of health will be organizing clinics to immunize people in Phases 1, 2, and 3. Information on locations and hours for these clinics, once available, will be posted on COVID-19 vaccine locations for individuals currently eligible to be vaccinated. If your local board of health operates one of these clinics, it is important to understand how the local board of health operates the clinic and if there is capacity to come on site to administer vaccines or for the local board of health to dedicate part of a scheduled clinic for your residents. 

Option #3: Mass Vaccination, Provider and Pharmacy Sites 

Residents and staff may schedule an appointment at a provider location, pharmacy or a mass vaccination site. Additional pharmacy, provider, and mass vaccination sites will come online in the coming weeks. 

These sites will require appropriate identification to establish that residents and staff meet the senior housing prioritization criteria. For residents, documentation includes a letter from the housing owner/manager verifying that the resident lives in public or private affordable or subsidized senior housing as described above. For staff, appropriate identification may include a letter from the employer organization and an employee identification card or state/federal issued identification. 

Additional avenues for local vaccine clinics and/or mobile vaccine distribution are actively being explored. Information will be shared as it is available. Vaccination locations will be posted on the Mass.gov/CovidVaccine website, which is updated regularly.

Point of Contact

For questions regarding this guidance document or the implementation of the vaccine deployment options – please contact: SeniorHousingVaccine@mass.gov.

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