COVID-19 vaccine brings hope to residents at senior living community

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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -In Pima County, nearly 15% of people 75 years of age and older have received a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s according to the County’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francisco Garcia.

“We have made some important inroads in that population, but to say that we are done - that we are anywhere close to being done with 75 plusers - would be irresponsible,” said Dr. Garcia. “Until and unless we get through the bulk of that 75 plus population, I’m not even willing to have a conversation about 65 plus.”

That’s not to say no vulnerable seniors between 65 and 74 have received a vaccine.

The first group to get vaccinated as part of Phase 1A included those at long-term care facilities; regardless of their age.

With the slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, assisted living communities are still working to provide their residents with some protection from the virus.

On Sunday, Tucson Place at Ventana Canyon held its first vaccination clinic.

Since March, socialization has been limited to the people living and working at the facility. However, residents have been able to facetime loved ones, arrange window visits and, most recently, patio visits.

“Compare that with those who are at home and they don’t have other people to socialize with,” said James McFadden, who lives at Tucson Place.

McFadden is looking forward to the day when families are reunited and hugs are a common greeting again. That day seems even closer now.

“I would have been happy to have gotten [the COVID-19 vaccine] a month ago,” he laughed. “But it’s available [now] and I wanted to take it very badly.”

McFadden’s eyes gave away his smile beneath a mask as he received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I didn’t even feel it at all!” he said.

At 70 years old, McFadden one of the youngest residents at Tucson Place.

“We have about 65 residents in our community,” said Victoria McLeod, the Community Sales Director, “and the majority of our residents fall under the category of average mid-80s.”

Staff has worked hard to keep Tucson Place COVID-free.

Even though nearly everyone has now received their first dose of the vaccine, residents will have to wait a little longer before visitors are allowed inside again.

We have to get through the clinics first to see what the C.D.C. is going to guide us on, but [residents] are looking forward to seeing their families,” said Suzanne Porter, the Executive Director of Tucson Place.

For McFadden, hope is on the horizon. He urges everyone who is offered the same opportunity … to take it.

“Quite frankly, if not for yourself, for everybody else,” he said.

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