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'It's a start' | Triad long term care facilities start vaccinating residents, staff

Camden Health and Rehabilitation in Greensboro was one of the first Triad facilities to start vaccinations through CVS Health Monday.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Some of the most vulnerable people to the coronavirus got their first vaccines across the Triad Monday.

Walgreen's and CVS Health are starting their vaccine clinics this week across the state.

Camden Health and Rehabilitation in Greensboro is among some of the first long term care facilities in the state to start vaccinating residents and staff.

The facility was hit hard with coronavirus cases and deaths during the pandemic. Administrators said outbreaks have leveled off and they feel that this might be the light at the end of the tunnel.

"It's exciting for our residents who are able to take this next step. There is some apprehension about it, of course, because it is new but I think overall our staff has embraced it, our residents and families have embraced it," Camden Health administrator James Detter said.

About 100 residents received their vaccines at the facility Monday, along with about half of the staff.

Camden Health is partnering with CVS Health to give those vaccines. Monday was the first of three vaccination clinics the pharmacy chain will have at the facility in the coming weeks.

Detter estimated about 90 percent of the residents did elect to get the vaccine during the first round. 

"I've been very pleased with our enrollment to be vaccinated for the first round," Detter said.

The rest will have the opportunity to get their first dose on January 25 during the next clinic.

Marty Richardson said her mother was one of the residents vaccinated at Camden Health Monday.

87-year-old Vira Kivett told her daughter it did not hurt to get the vaccine and she's not feeling any soreness so far.

"I think she's a little apprehensive but I think she's glad to have at least some protection since she's in an environment that tends to have repeated outbreaks," Richardson said.

It's been nearly a year since Richardson hugged her mother during visits. She was only allowed back into the facility on a weekly basis three months ago.

She used to visit her mother daily.

"It has been hard on her being isolated and having no social contact," Richardson said.

She is hopeful their visits can become more frequent and maskless at some point in the new year.

Richardson said her mother is still concerned about possible side effects but is doing well so far. She said the decision to get vaccinated came after outbreaks and deaths in the facility.

"I opted to sign the paperwork and have her vaccinated because I felt like some protection is better than none," Richardson said, "At least it's a start."

Now they are waiting for January 25 when Kivett is scheduled to get her second dose.

"We believe this is kind of the beginnings of light at the end of the tunnel, you know, with somewhat of a normal life coming back in the future," Detter said.

Not all long term care facilities started vaccinations Monday.

WFMY News 2's Grace Holland reached out to several facilities in Guilford County. Some said they're starting vaccinations later this week, others said they start next week and some still do not know.

Steve Fleming is the CEO of Well Spring Retirement and said their skilled nursing residents will have their first CVS clinic on January 5 but there's still not a timeline for independent living residents.

Fleming said providers like CVS and Walgreens are not including some groups, like independent living residents, in their vaccination clinics. He said Well Spring is working with the Guilford County Department of Public Health to possibly handle those vaccinations.

He hopes independent living residents and others not vaccinated on January 5 can get their doses sometime in the middle of next month.

"Everybody's hopes get up because they hear a date but it takes time. That's the reality about this. This is a big rollout of vaccine," Fleming said.

CVS Health said the company is working with nearly 900 long term care facilities across North Carolina.

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