How to Handle Vaccinations in Your Association: Encouraging Residents and Staff to Get Vaccinated for the Safety of the Community

How to Handle Vaccinations in Your Association: Encouraging Residents and Staff to Get Vaccinated for the Safety of the Community

Discussing whether to receive the recently developed COVID-19 vaccination has become the newest version of “The Talk” – the one that no one wants to have but should. No matter the size of your community, whether your residents are spread out across several buildings on the association’s property or live communally in one large building, safety is the number one concern among associations.

The recent rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has left many feeling hopeful that life as we knew it could potentially return to some sense of normalcy. Having conversations around vaccines such as this can be tricky, as residents and team members come from different upbringings, backgrounds, cultures, or religions and most likely have their views and opinions on receiving vaccines. Your residents and team members are adults and can easily make health-related decisions for themselves; however, presenting them with data and safety reasoning can help provide some assistance for those who may be on the fence about receiving the latest COVID-19 vaccine. If you’re struggling with how to have this conversation or how to help promote your staff and residents on getting vaccinated, read these tips below to gain some insight into a rather tricky dialogue.

Present the Facts

First and foremost, present the data to your team members and residents, especially those who are hesitant due to the novelty of the COVID-19 vaccine, those who simply believe they don’t need it, or those who are unsure for a multitude of reasons. Make sure that with any data you provide, you can back it up with reputable sources. Yale Medicine cites that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was up to 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in individuals without prior infection. Researchers at Yale report that the vaccine was “equally effective across a variety of different types of people and variables, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, and body mass index or presence of other medical conditions” (Katella, Yale Medicine, 2021). Moderna’s vaccine also boasts 94.1% effectiveness at preventing symptomatic infection in people with no evidence of previous COVID-19 disease. The vaccine “appeared to have high efficacy in clinical trials among people of diverse age, sex, race, and ethnicity categories and among people with underlying medical conditions” (Katella, Yale Medicine, 2021). Once you have presented the facts to your residents and team members, it is then up to them to receive the vaccine.

Make it Fun

This option might sound odd at first but listen: most individuals are competitive by nature. Making it into a competition with a visual representation of how far your association has gone can send people into a natural drive to want to compete and win. For example, display a poster that can help residents and team members visualize the progress of the entire association, perhaps one for 1st dose vaccines and another for 2nd dose vaccine progress. A study completed at Virginia Tech reported increased motivation to achieve a goal, even if it was in an abstract context, by providing a visual progress report (a bar filling up the further an individual went in the test). “Unpacking a goal into subgoals can make the tasks more manageable and may increase effort and performance. Our research results suggest that we process visual representations in a manner similar to distance, influencing perceptions of proximity and effort as we pursue certain tasks or make decisions about investing time and effort for a particular outcome” (Cheema, Virginia Tech, 2011). While the study was not done in the era of the coronavirus, the results still hold to the sheer power of influence that visual progress can have on people.

Provide Them with an Incentive

Not to be confused with bribing your residents or team members (which should never be done), providing them with encouragement and a positive reward or incentive upon reaching the goal of having, (for example, 80% of the resident population vaccinated), can give individuals something to look forward to for putting forth the time and effort to get the vaccine. Incentives could include a special resident event once the goal is reached. 

Provide Key Messages About Vaccine Effectiveness and Safety

Along with providing the facts for your residents and team members, providing consistent and clear messages about COVID-19 vaccine safety (direct from the CDC’s website) can help increase vaccine confidence among those in your association, such as:

  • 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 extensive 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, the FDA carefully reviews all the effectiveness and safety data from clinical trials. 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.

Take note of the number of residents who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19. Presenting this information, along with providing positive incentives and encouragement, to your residents and team members who are on the fence about getting vaccinated can help them make the best decision while taking into account their safety and immunity, along with the safety and health of others around them. There will be residents or team members who cannot be persuaded or encouraged to receive the vaccine for various reasons – as a team member at a property or Board member; you cannot legally force them to be vaccinated.

Along the same lines, you cannot legally force a resident or guest to wear a mask. However, in some instances you may be able to issue a fine for not wearing a mask in common areas – we suggest consulting with your legal counsel for the best course of action if this is of interest. Most guests and residents will happily comply with a mask mandate in common areas of your association, such as the lobby, hallways, or amenity areas (if you have opened them).

Encouraging residents and team members to get vaccinated is tough and can be a difficult or uncomfortable topic of discussion, but it doesn’t have to be. Talk to your management company for guidance if you are unsure of how to navigate the subject; companies like Worth Ross Management can help provide your Board with unbiased counsel on handling difficult conversations such as health and safety for all team members and residents.