It was a long wait, but when the time came, residents and some staff at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge were among the first in Virginia to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
The first shots were administered on January 4, going to care area residents and associates. On January 25, residents in independent living and remaining staff had their turns. Under the plan, which was meticulously worked out weeks ahead of time, a third vaccination clinic was set up for February 15.
A small army worked together to make it happen, completing paperwork, coordinating logistics, and scheduling vaccination times. Those responsible included a very professional group from CVS, associate volunteers, and many others.
Resident Eileen Foster, who is 100 years old, got hers on the first day: “No, it didn’t hurt. It was just like any shot you have, any inoculation you get.” Perfectly routine, but she was impressed by the CVS team, which she said was “Very efficient. Quite a large team came. I was surprised at how many people. Between 12 and 15.”
Her assessment of the experience matched that of many others: The operation was well-managed, went smoothly and it didn’t even hurt!
It was a cause for celebration for many. Charlie Stamm, president of the WCBR Residents’ Association, wrote in the latest issue of Happenings that through all through the dark months, he had trusted that eventually “the threat would pass, medical and human perseverance would show the way out.”
“And it is here!” he wrote. “Vaccines were developed (hooray for science)!”
Best of all, the injections put everyone on the road to being safe from the virus that has caused so much grief and suffering in the past year. Normal life is now something we can look forward to with real anticipation.
WCBR was in Phase 1a of the Virginia Vaccination plan, which included health-care workers and residents of “long-term care facilities.” Now, shots are being given to people in the Phase 1b group, which includes anyone over 65 years old, younger people with underlying medical problems, and frontline essential workers.
This was a huge step. The vaccinations received at WCBR are known to be 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection. We may still become infected, but if we do, the severity should be greatly reduced. And no one is yet sure whether the vaccine will prevent us from being carriers, potentially infecting others. So we still have to observe precautions to protect ourselves and others.
But we still have great cause to rejoice! Chaplain Elaine Tola invoked that in Happenings: “We still have to observe COVID-19 precautionary guidelines: social distancing, masks, and hand-washing, but the vaccine gives us hope that there is yet a light at the end of this isolating tunnel.
“Hang in there, my friends.”