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Senior residents welcome first round of COVID-19 vaccine

Ecumen Meadows, Golden Horizons residents vaccinated Tuesday.

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Gladys Weibel bared her upper arm to accept her first dose of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday afternoon as she anticipates protection from the COVID-19 virus. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — More than 100 residents of Ecumen Meadows in Worthington received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday afternoon, and they were eager to celebrate the occasion.

Administrator Nancy Garvin said all but one of the facility’s residents opted to receive the vaccine, while staff members were divided into two teams. Half the staff received the vaccine on Tuesday and the other half will get their first dose in mid-February, when the first half receives their second dose.

“By March 16, everyone who lives and works at The Meadows will be vaccinated fully, if they choose,” Garvin said. “For us to have all residents except for one (vaccinated) is phenomenal.”

The Minnesota Department of Health matched Ecumen Meadows with Walgreens Pharmacy to complete the vaccination effort. The Moderna vaccine arrived at noon — an hour ahead of schedule, Garvin noted — and residents were escorted to the club lounge to get their shot. The entire process took less than three hours to complete.

“We had another area for 15-minute observation, and there were no adverse reactions,” Garvin said, adding that there were some jokesters who exclaimed, “My arm is still here!” and others who thought the day was worthy of celebrating with a beer.

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“Some wondered what their super powers are now that they’ve been vaccinated,” Garvin shared. “One guy said he can now live to be 100.

“There was a lot of laughter — a lot of smiles,” she said. “It couldn’t have gone any better.”

Residents of Ecumen Meadows have been fairly isolated, with limited visitors since the start of the global pandemic in Minnesota last March. While the vaccine will help in preventing them from getting the virus, Garvin said social distancing will remain in place until the majority of people have the vaccine.

“I don’t foresee that, or the masks, going away anytime soon,” she said. “The hope is that we will be able to allow more than just essential caregivers in our building and have our volunteers back in the building — that will be huge.”

Across the street from Ecumen Meadows, 22 of the 25 residents of Golden Horizons also received the first round of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday. RN Administrator Cherry Schnoor also reported that eight of 20 employees received the vaccination, with the majority of those not vaccinated (10) not eligible because of their age. For the Moderna vaccine, individuals must be at least 18 years of age or older.

“(Residents) were excited,” Schnoor said of the vaccination event, adding that there have been a few side effects among residents, such as some fatigue, nausea and a little arm soreness. The date for the second round of vaccinations has not yet been set, but Schnoor said the waiting period is 28 days.

Worthington’s long-term-care facilities — South Shore and Crossroads care centers — welcomed Avera Long-Term Care staff on Jan. 4 to vaccinate residents and staff who desired it. They are slated to receive their second dose on Feb. 1.

“It’s voluntary, so those that wanted to receive vaccinations did receive vaccination,” said Dennis DeJager, administrator for the two facilities, which are owned by Superior Healthcare Management. While DeJager couldn’t say how many residents and staff opted for the vaccine, he said the company-wide goal is 80%.

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The two Worthington facilities continue to test staff for COVID-19 twice weekly because the county’s infection rate remains over 10%, DeJager added.

At Parkview Manor in Ellsworth, a staff member reported there are no active COVID-19 cases among residents or staff, and that most of them received their first dose of the vaccine on Jan. 7. The second dose is anticipated to be received in early February.

Related Topics: CORONAVIRUS
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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