BEXLEY, Ohio (WCMH) – More than a century ago, Joe Jeanette’s older sister fell victim to the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic as an infant. Wednesday, the 99-year-old took a historic step against another global pandemic.
Jeanette was the first Bexley Bickford Senior Living resident to receive a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s been very boring having to stay in my apartment,” he said with a laugh.
In the spring of 2020, the facility canceled outings and barred visitors from entering the building. For a short period, families could visit residents in a designated space with limited contact, but the facility’s first positive COVID-19 case diagnosed in late November forced the visits to stop.
“It changed life instantly for them,” said executive director Molly Britt said of the pandemic precautions.
Nursing director Liz McHugh added, “These residents, even if they’re not affected with COVID, it still affects them. They’re depressed, they’re lonely, they need their family.”
As frontline workers caring for many individuals who are dangerously susceptible to the virus, McHugh explained she and other staff have also altered their routines to keep everyone safe.
“I haven’t seen my family because I feel I don’t want to bring anything into my residents. I don’t want them to get sick because of me,” she said.
The initial stage of Ohio’s vaccine rollout plan prioritizes residents and staff in congregate settings. Phase 1A frontline healthcare workers, EMS, people living in residential mental health or substance abuse treatment facilities, as well as residents and staff in nursing and assisted living facilities.
Bickford Senior Living is among the first assisted living facilities in Central Ohio to receive the vaccine. The Wednesday distribution is part of the federal Pharmacy Long Term Care Partnership Program. Walgreens employees delivered and administered the shot.
Britt estimated more than 90 percent of residents and staff planned to receive the first dose of the vaccine Wednesday.
“We’re hoping that that helps us get back to normal,” she said. “I can’t wait for families to walk back in that door freely.”
Jeanette hoped receiving the vaccine would allow him to travel again and reconnect with his family.
“I’m looking forward to seeing my daughter and my grandkids and my great-grandkids, spending a little time with them,” he said.
The second dose will be administered 28 days after the first.