We were notified this week that we will have our first COVID-19 vaccination clinic next week. Our pharmacy partner, the only way nursing homes can administer the vaccines, will be in our long term care setting on Monday to give our elders and staff their first dose of the vaccine. The second dose will be done in 21 days, in mid-January.
Over the last two days I have had the opportunity to talk with the vast majority of our staff. We’ve held meetings and walked the hallways, creating impromptu gatherings, to talk about the facts—and debunk rumors—about the vaccine. Yesterday we held a family meeting on Zoom and had close to 100 families join us to learn about this big step forward.
Our conversations have all begun with the facts around the vaccine and how it will be administered. But, as we begin to talk about it, we realize there is far more than fact surrounding this vaccine. For those of us who work with older adults, it is the answer for which we have been waiting and praying. It represents the end of those sleepless nights when we agonized about what more we could do to protect and save our elders. It is the glimmer of hope that we will, once again, be able to open our doors to families and volunteers and bring people together to share meals and enjoy programs and one another’s company. And, more than anything, as one of our team said to me this morning, it’s the real possibility that we will be able to once again hug people, to provide the human contact that COVID has taken away from us.
This has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us. Whether you were locked down at home or were an essential worker in environments that have their own elements of risk, this pandemic has challenged us all. Some of us have been terribly ill, some have lost their lives or their loved ones. No matter what the circumstances, we have all lived with anxiety, we have all lived with wondering whether this virus was going to alter the course of our lives.
Vaccine is the only tool in our toolbox to fight and extinguish this virus. Those two injections will enable us to finally exhale, to know that “normal” is once again within our grasp. No, we can’t give up the facemasks and social distancing yet. But that day will come. We will be able to gather again, we will be able to be with our loved ones, we will be able to “get our lives back.” For our elders who live in nursing homes, this cannot be a minute too soon. The light at the end of this 2020 tunnel gets brighter every day. May we all continue to move strongly towards that light.