COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are an important step in protecting the health and safety of people living with Alzheimer's and all other dementias. Learn more about the vaccines, boosters and how to safely visit those who live in long-term care settings.
The Alzheimer’s Association strongly encourages every person ages five and over to get vaccinated and boosted. If you have questions about the vaccine, talk to your health care provider or visit the CDC website.
COVID-19 vaccine information for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia
Should people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccine is safe for those living with Alzheimer's and other dementia. We have seen that COVID-19 vaccination saves lives, especially among older adults. People with dementia may find it difficult to wash their hands regularly and wear a mask. They are also more likely to have other health conditions that affect their immunity. Because of these factors, vaccines and boosters are a vital part of keeping them safe. Vaccines and boosters also protect long-term care residents, staff and visitors.
What if the person living with dementia is unable to provide consent for vaccination?
If a resident cannot consent, health care providers will talk to the person who is authorized to make health care decisions for them.
What if someone chooses not to get vaccinated?
Vaccines are an important step in protecting the health and safety of long-term care residents and staff. We strongly encourage their use. Forced vaccinations are extremely rare in any situation for any disease. If you choose not to be vaccinated or have somebody you care for be vaccinated, other ways to try to keep them from COVID-19 include daily testing, personal protective equipment, and other approaches to keep them and those around them safe.
As a caregiver in close contact with the person living with dementia, how can I keep them safe?
Anyone age 5 or over is eligible for vaccination and for boosters. Consult the CDC’s How Do I Find a COVID-19 Vaccine? for information on how to find a vaccine provider in your state.
Be sure to consider the risks associated with COVID-19 and take additional safety precautions for people living with dementia. Read the Alzheimer's Association dementia caregiver tips for promoting your loved one's safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether at home or in a residential care setting.
Visiting someone in long-term care
My loved one in long-term care has been vaccinated. Is it safe for me to visit?
Now that more people are vaccinated, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the CDC have changed their visiting guidelines.
The Alzheimer’s Association supports these important CMS guidelines:
- Regardless of vaccination status, all visitors are strongly encouraged to wear a well-fitted mask (surgical or KN95) at all times, maintain physical distancing and visit outdoors when possible. This continues to be the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially if someone has not been fully vaccinated and boosted.
- If residents are fully vaccinated and boosted, the new CMS guidelines do allow for close contact, including touch.
What safety precautions should I take when visiting somebody in long-term care?
Because people living with Alzheimer's and other dementia are more at risk, the Alzheimer's Association encourages visitors and caregivers to take additional safety precautions when visiting care communities. These include:
- Before your visit, check with the care community on its visitation policies.
- If you are unvaccinated, consider getting tested before visiting. Also, limit the number of unvaccinated individuals who visit at any one time.
- During your visit, follow community guidelines for visitation. Keep your distance from other residents as much as possible.
- Conduct visits outdoors when you can to reduce the risk of getting COVID or infecting somebody.
- If you have had close contact with somebody who has COVID-19, have symptoms yourself, or have tested positive, use the CDC calculator to see how long you should wait before visiting.
- Inform staff immediately if you have a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 or any other serious infection within 10 days after your visit.
- Bring your own face mask, put it on before entering the care site and wear it at all times. Masks should be well-fitted and fit closely over your mouth and nose. The CDC offers specific guidance on choosing and wearing a mask or respirator.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
How can I be sure that staff at a long-term care community are vaccinated?
If you have concerns, ask your provider about their staff vaccination policy and how they confirm that staff are vaccinated.
The Association believes vaccinations and boosters are a very important step in protecting the health and safety of long-term care residents and staff. The combination of vaccines, protective coverings, rapid testing and other safety measures help to ensure that residents can have visitors.
For additional information on dementia care, read the Association's emergency preparedness tips for professional dementia caregivers.
Talk with a dementia expert now — Call 800.272.3900
Whether you have questions about a COVID-19 vaccine, Alzheimer's and dementia or anything in between, we're here to help. Call our free 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900 to connect with specialists and master's-level clinicians who offer confidential support and information to people living with the disease, caregivers, families and the public.