Alexandria, VA – Slowly but surely more and more people are receiving their first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Alexandria is currently in vaccination phases 1a and 1b, including healthcare personnel, residents of long-term care facilities, essential frontline workers, those 65 and older, and those 16-64 with qualifying medical conditions.
I talked with a few locals in the 1a and 1b groups about their experiences. Sheila Hoben is an independent living resident at Goodwin House Alexandria. Josh Bagley is the administrator of the Health Care Center at Goodwin House Alexandria. They have both received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Goodwin House hosts three residence levels: independent living, assisted living, and a health care nursing home. So far, all residents in the nursing home and all staff who requested have been vaccinated twice. Also, 99 percent of all Goodwin House residents have received their first dose.
Goodwin House partnered with CVS and the Van Dorn Pharmacy to deliver vaccinations in a series of clinics. The clinics are regularly scheduled and administered by licensed pharmacists. The Pfizer clinic for staff and nursing home and assisted living residents took place December 29, with the follow-up clinic on January 19. The Moderna clinic for independent living residents was on January 15, with the follow-up clinic on February 12.
Resident Sheila Hoben participated in the January 15 Moderna clinic. “It was concierge service at our door,” she says. “The day of our scheduled vaccination, they arrived on our floor with the paperwork done in advance. We were all sitting in the hall and laughing at each other, pretty jovially, thinking, ‘Well, we should just do this more often.’”
After her first dose, Sheila reported no symptoms other than typical soreness in her arm. She has heard no reports of reactions to the first dose.
For Sheila and her husband, the decision to vaccinate was “a no-brainer.” Like many others, she and her husband are anxious to socialize again with neighbors, friends, and family.
For Josh Bagley, the vaccination brings hope, relief, and gratitude. “It’s been a hard year for all of us,” says Josh. “The residents we serve in the health care center are the most vulnerable in our community. People haven’t been able to see family for so long. Communal dining has been closed since Christmas. We need more connection.
“It’s just a relief that we finally have this important tool that can bring a higher quality of life for our residents. We are grateful for the scientists and everyone who has made it possible to prioritize these doses and these people. And I can keep my family safer when I go home.”
While residents wait for second vaccinations, Goodwin House maintains strict COVID protocols: social distancing, masks, and thorough sanitization. Goodwin House has safely reopened communal dining for assisted living and health care center residents who have received both vaccine doses. Reopening communal dining for independent living residents is planned after the second dose is administered.
Goodwin House staff are collaborating with local health department personnel to coordinate future vaccination clinics, but so far, 99 percent of residents and over 85 percent of staff have been vaccinated.
“Josh and the rest of the medical staff here have been just phenomenal,” says Sheila. “There is really no other word for it. They adapted in many ways, as all of us had to, but they had to do it strategically.”
As phase 1c, which includes remaining essential workers, approaches, Goodwin House and all of Alexandria will have to remain strategic with its vaccination clinics. Essential workers will receive vaccination through employer-based clinics; others through their local health departments, pharmacies, or healthcare providers.
Individuals and organizations can register or pre-register online and will be contacted for appointments on a rolling basis. For more information regarding vaccinations and phase groupings, visit www.alexandriava.gov/Vaccines.