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Vaccine comes to Topeka for senior living residents, staff

Lennie Benson was one of the first employees vaccinated at Topeka Presbyterian Manor.

After months of being on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19 Topeka Presbyterian Manor began the process of vaccinating residents and staff on 1/2/2021.

“There’s no doubt the senior population has been hit hard by the virus, along with the health care workers who’ve treated them,” said Heather Pilkinton, executive director at Topeka Presbyterian Manor. “We couldn’t be happier to know there’s finally a bit of light at the end of such a difficult year.”

The vaccine clinic was made possible through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. Topeka Presbyterian Manor will receive the Pfizer vaccine in limited doses, which will be given to at-risk residents in health care and assisted living as well as essential health care workers. All those vaccinated on 1/2/2021 will need to receive a second dose in 21 days.

Regarding independent living residents, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended prioritizing people over the age of 75 and essential frontline workers during the initial phase of vaccinations. Those ages 65-74 would be prioritized next, including those 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions. It’s important to note that these are guidelines. Kansas and Missouri will determine vaccine distribution priorities.

Employees and residents alike are eager to receive their first dose. “Our community is ready for this pandemic to be over,” said Rose Dahlgren, marketing director at Topeka Presbyterian Manor. “We’re grateful there is another tool to help us keep our residents safe. Having access to this vaccine will help our community move closer towards a new normal.”

While side effects related to the vaccine are rare according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Topeka Presbyterian Manor will closely monitor those who receive vaccinations. Potential side effects include injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever.

The vaccine being distributed at Topeka Presbyterian Manor is being administered by CVS, who has partnered with Pfizer and the federal government to ensure safe distribution to at-risk populations during the first round of inoculations through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.

While vaccinations will lower the risk of transmission throughout the community, precautions remain in place.

All employees are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines and best practices as these are continually updated. We have been screening individuals as they enter the community building for a shift and before individuals have any direct contact with residents.  All staff are educated to stay at home if they are experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness or not feeling well. Employee surveillance testing will continue as required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) based on county positivity rates for COVID-19 testing.

For more information about Topeka Presbyterian Manor’s response, go to PMMA’s (Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America’s) website,

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