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coronavirus-vaccine.jpg KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images

Senior Living Centers’ New Sales Pitch: Sign Lease, Get Vaccine

Hard-hit senior living facilities marketing themselves by promising coveted vaccine shots.

(Bloomberg)—The Covid-19 pandemic has sent occupancy rates at senior-living facilities plummeting. Now one operator is dangling access to vaccines in a bid to fill vacant units.

Atria Senior Living Inc., which has more than 150 assisted-living properties in more than 25 states, has slashed move-in fees and offered free months of rent to attract residents.

When assisted-living centers were granted top priority for the vaccines, the company sweetened its pitch. One property -- Atria Bay Shore on Long Island, where apartments start at $3,695 a month -- blasted a marketing email to seniors and loved ones, promising the coveted shots to those who signed a lease by Jan. 26.

“There isn’t a better time than now to choose Atria Bay Shore,” the email said.

Atria began touting the vaccine in marketing materials after would-be tenants started asking about it, said Sanela Graziose, executive vice president of sales, marketing and communications. On its website, the company lists more than 60 vaccine clinics scheduled at its U.S. centers for January and February.

Senior-living facilities have taken a hit from the pandemic as prospective residents and their families balk at the perceived risks of infection and rising rents. The U.S. occupancy rate at such properties fell to an all-time low of 80.7% in the fourth quarter, according to a report by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.

The hunt for Covid-19 shots is becoming increasingly desperate for at-risk Americans, with states and cities struggling to obtain and effectively dole out the shots. While more than 17 million doses have been administered in the U.S., concerns about the supply remain. This week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city may have to close its vaccination sites failing a major restock.

With the elderly at far greater risk of dying from Covid-19, the supply problems may make Atria’s pitch more enticing and blunt some concerns about the risks of assisted living.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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