Voting, COVID-19 & flu: Advice for seniors

Good Samaritan Society helps residents to safely exercise their rights

Tom Syverson (left) sits down with Sanford Health News' Simon Floss (right) to discuss voting, visitations, and vaccine updates at The Good Samaritan Society

“We are here for our residents.”

That’s the message Tom Syverson, director of government and external affairs at The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, wants everyone to know.

In an Oct. 20 interview, Syverson addressed topics like voting during a pandemic, the Society’s visitation status, and COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.

In addition, Syverson also spoke about Good Samaritan Society’s recent announcement that president and CEO Randy Bury was elected to the Board of Governors for the American Health Care Association (AHCA).

Voting

We’re less than two weeks away from the 2020 election. Syverson says in any election, it’s important all Americans have the opportunity to vote.

But, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges to older voters, he says.

“If they’re exposed to the COVID-19 virus, they are vulnerable to more serious illness, complications, and even death.

“It’s important for residents to know that they have the opportunity to vote, and to help connect them to safe ways of doing so. Staff are encouraged to collaborate with state and local partners on this effort.”

Syverson also says there’s many voting issues relevant to seniors. Health care, Medicare and Social Security, and funding for programs that benefit seniors, like Meals on Wheels, are a few issues important to seniors.

Syverson adds that voting will be more challenging in 2020 because there are safety precautions in place, limiting visitation to nursing homes.

But, “through new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, our nursing homes can allow visitors when it’s safe to do so.”

Related: COVID-19 Q&A: Visitors matter to long-term care residents

Vaccines

Syverson says vaccines continue to be a hot topic, especially the impending COVID-19 vaccine.

He adds that both the Good Samaritan Society and Sanford Health are working together in preparation of distributing the vaccines, once they’re available.

“This collaboration between Sanford Health and Good Samaritan is one of the many examples of why we are stronger as one, combined organization.

“We have direct access to top pharmacy, clinical and immunization leaders, and Sanford has access to pharmacists and regional leaders who are experts in senior care,” says Syverson.

He adds that vaccines help protect not only the person vaccinated, but help keep diseases from spreading to others. “Vaccines reduce your risk of infection by working with your body’s natural defenses to help safely develop immunity to disease,” he adds.

Because of the pandemic, getting the flu vaccine is even more important this year, says Good Samaritan Society chief medical officer Dr. Greg Johnson.

“Flu shots are an essential part of preventative care. Every year, seniors and others should get the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine decreases the risk of serious complications related to influenza, as well as hospitalization,” says Dr. Johnson.

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Posted In Coronavirus, Expert Q&A, Flu, Senior Services

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