Long-term care facilities are receiving some of the earliest doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as health officials look to inoculate the groups hardest hit from the coronavirus pandemic and the staff who work with them.
Vaccinations began at both Solstice Senior Living facilities — Mesa View and Grand Valley — this week and most residents and staff will be fully inoculated by Feb. 18.
For a community that’s been restricted from going out in public or seeing family, the vaccine comes as a huge relief and was met with celebration.
“They get the shot in the activity room and we’ve set up a recovery room with music and balloons to try to make it a bit of a party,” Solstice at Mesa View Executive Director Glenda Reust said.
Vaccinations for staff and residents of long-term care facilities are being handled through a federal contract between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Walgreens, and CVS. This effort is known as the Pharmacy Partnership Program.
A clinic at Mesa View was up and running for about four hours on Thursday, vaccinating residents and staff at the long-term care facility throughout the day.
Resident Ginny Citko, 85, got her vaccine on Thursday morning and was excited to have her first dose.
“It feels like a great day. Everyone in my family is looking forward to this,” she said.
Citko has been fortunate throughout the pandemic. She has a balcony with her room and so family who live in town have been able to stop by and wave to her during holidays and birthdays.
“I have two daughters here and a grandson and his family,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting out and can’t wait to ask about getting my family inside the building.”
Reust said the plan is to have a signup sheet and open up a room for scheduled visits with families for residents. For some, it has been nearly a year since they’ve been able to see their sons, daughters and grandchildren.
“Residents are running to sign up. We’re still wearing masks and social distancing,” she said. Those at the long-term care facility are just ready to get back to civilized activity and go into shops and grocery stores in town. Mesa County Public Health officials have said the goal is to get long-term care and senior living homes 94% vaccinated by the end of the month.
Mesa County’s vaccine dashboard was updated on Wednesday evening showing more details about how many vaccines have been distributed to the community so far.
According to the newest numbers, over 1,000 people in Mesa County, likely frontline health-care workers, have been fully inoculated, meaning they have received their first and second dosages. The county has also averaged around 2,000 vaccines per week over the past two weeks. Due to the 72 hours providers have to report vaccine administration into the Colorado Immunization Information System, weekly totals may be updated as additional doses are reported.
Anyone who receives the vaccine can expect mild symptoms such as pain, swelling, fever, chills, tiredness and headache are normal responses, according to Mesa County Public Health.