COVID-19 Vaccination Urged for Individuals Living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Family Caregivers
New Recommendation from Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Medical, Scientific and Memory Screening Advisory Board
(January 21, 2021)–The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) Medical, Scientific and Memory Screening Advisory Board is urging all individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregivers to get the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are able to do so.
“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important steps families affected by Alzheimer’s disease can take to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said J. Wesson Ashford, MD, PhD, Chair of AFA’s Medical, Scientific and Memory Screening Advisory Board. “Individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease are often older and at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, and family caregivers cannot provide proper care to their loved one if their own health is compromised. COVID-19 has added enormous new hardships for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease, but vaccination brings us another step closer to the end of this terrible pandemic.”
The AFA Medical, Scientific and Memory Screening Advisory Board Recommendation follows:
“COVID-19 has been one of the most significant public health crises in recent memory. It has been extraordinarily hard for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease—preventing visitations in long-term care settings, cutting off access to vital in-person therapeutic and respite care programs and adding enormous stress to family caregivers. The development of the COVID-19 vaccination brings us closer to the end of this terrible, global pandemic, but only if people receive it. We urge all families affected by Alzheimer’s disease to get vaccinated as soon as they are able to do so.
“Alzheimer’s disease primarily impacts older adults, who are at higher risk of developing serious, and possibly fatal, complications from COVID-19, especially if they also have an underlying health condition. Eighty percent of COVID-19-related deaths in the United States have been among adults aged 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (representing approximately 16 percent of the total population).
“Getting a loved one vaccinated helps protect them from the COVID-19 virus as well as becoming seriously ill if they do contract it. Caregivers themselves should get the vaccination as further protection because contracting the virus will impact their health and ability to provide care. Mental and physical stress, which have been significantly increased during the pandemic, can also impact the body’s immune system.
“FDA-approved vaccines currently used in the United States do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19—you cannot get sick with COVID-19 simply through vaccination itself. While there may be minor side effects as with any vaccination, such as fever, fatigue or pain/swelling at the injection site, they are normal signs that your body is building protection and pale in comparison to the dangers of contracting COVID-19. Currently-approved FDA vaccines require two shots in order to be the most effective.
“We all long for the day when this pandemic is behind us. Every vaccination brings that day a little bit closer. We highly encourage families affected by Alzheimer’s disease to get the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are able to and continue practicing adequate social distancing, proper masking, and all other recommended safety protocols–for their own health, their loved ones’ health, and for all of us.”
AFA Medical, Scientific and Memory Screening Advisory Board Members
J. Wesson Ashford, MD, PhD, Chair
Peter Bayley, PhD
Soo Borson, MD
Herman Buschke, MD
Jeffrey Cummings, MD, ScD
Margaret Dean, RN, CS-BC, NP-C, FAANP
Sanford Finkel, MD
Lori Frank, PhD
Lee Hyer, PhD
George Perry, PhD
Richard Powers, MD
Allison Reiss, MD
Frederick Schmitt, PhD
Click here for additional coronavirus information for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease.