As the U.S. reopens, many community associations are continuing to navigate conversations with residents about COVID-19 vaccines. Since there is so much information surrounding them, navigating the myths and truths has been an ongoing challenge for board members and community managers.
When the vaccine rollout started in December, some community associations took initiative by partnering with health care providers to organize clinics where vaccines were administered on-site to residents as they became available. Others set up neighborhood-wide carpooling events for residents without transportation to help them get to a vaccination site.
David W. Kaman, founding partner of Kaman & Cusimano in Ohio and president of the Board of Governors of CAI’s College of Community Associations Lawyers (CCAL), suggests refraining from such a requirement. “Across the board, we recognize that all owners are members of the association. All owners are entitled to use amenities and attend annual meetings,” regardless of whether they are vaccinated, he says.
Vaccination rates of residents also might come up in conversations in communities. That’s not information associations should or could track. When those types of questions or concerns arise, that could be reason enough for communities to continue offering virtual meetings, according to Melissa Ramsey, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM, general manager of Sun City Carolina Lakes Community Association in Fort Mills, S.C., and chair of CAI’s 2021 Community Association Managers Council.
“All we can do is continue to encourage and promote a safe environment,” Ramsey says. “Sanitizing the common areas, putting hand sanitizer out, and frequent cleaning is the consistent message that we’re delivering in my community.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended a few strategies to help the general public have productive conversations about vaccinations. The guidance may be able to help community association leaders too. Some of the CDC advice includes:
- Listen to questions with empathy. The vaccines are new, and it’s normal for people to have questions about them.
- Ask open-ended questions to explore concerns. The questions should help you understand what the individual is worried about, where they learned any troubling information, and what they have done to get answers to their questions.
- Ask permission to share information. Once you understand questions and concerns, ask if you can provide some information from a source that you trust.
Outside of their official community association role, some board members and managers also might feel comfortable helping residents find their own reason to get vaccinated or helping make their vaccination happen. Much like workplaces, businesses, and schools, communities can return quicker to more normal operations as vaccination rates increase.
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