Sunrise Senior Living is making the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for its employees.
The McLean, Virginia-based senior living provider announced Tuesday that its employees have until July 31 to get fully vaccinated. Sunrise operates 270 senior living properties, making it one of the largest providers to make the Covid-19 vaccine a requirement for employment.
The effort is informed by advice from public health officials and aimed at helping residents get back to more normal ways of life, according to an update from Sunrise COO Jenifer Salamino and Chief Clinical Officer Sue Coppola.
“The vaccine gives us reason to look optimistically toward a future that will finally include many of the invaluable personal connections and activities we all miss so much,” the update from Salamino and Coppola reads. “Simply put, increasing vaccination rates is our best path forward to bring back more normalcy into our residents’ day-to-day lives.”
About 90% of Sunrise’s residents are already vaccinated, and the company has eased restrictions around what those residents can do on a daily basis. Sunrise residents who are fully vaccinated can more freely roam their communities and spend time in common areas; have a meal or take part in an activity with others when the wider community has hit an 80% vaccination rate; enjoy same-day outings without quarantining; and visit inside the community with family or friends who have also received their vaccinations.
“We know for our residents and families these changes cannot come soon enough, and we look forward to the many more smiles, laughs and even hugs that will soon fill our communities,” the post from Salamino and Coppola read.
With its decision, Sunrise joins a growing list of senior living providers that have also made getting the vaccine a condition of employment or plan to do so in the future. These include Forth Worth, Texas-based Civitas Senior Living, which announced its mandate on March 17; Irvine, California-based Silverado Senior Living; and early mandate adopters Bloomfield, New Jersey-based Juniper Communities and Louisville, Kentucky-based Atria Senior Living, which enacted their mandates at the beginning of the year.
Providers with plans to enact a vaccine mandate at a later date include Hickory, North Carolina-based ALG Senior and Aegis Living, which is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.
The decision to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine is not always an easy one for providers, and comes with a risk that some employees may quit instead of getting their shots. But for senior living companies that have already enacted vaccine mandates, the effects on participation rates are apparent.
For example, Atria in January made getting the vaccine a condition for employment. By March 4, the company’s overall vaccination rate had risen to 88%. Other providers, like Houston-based Belmont Village, have seen vaccination rates above 80% without setting a vaccine mandate. But there are also providers, such as Aegis Living, that have reported similarly high participation rates among employees and still see the need to make the vaccine mandatory, although they are waiting to do so until there are enough vaccines to widely distribute them.
“A really important part of what we offer is protection,” Aegis President Kris Engskov told SHN in February. “If we don’t have all of our team vaccinated, that feels like we’re not doing everything we can to protect [residents].”