COVID-19 vaccine: Some retirement communities helping over-65 residents get doses

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., (KABC) -- While the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is speeding up slightly, many people 65 and older are still struggling to get appointments.

However, efforts are underway in retirement and assisted-living communities.

MaryAnn Ten Eyck and her husband Jim sailed through their second Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination with no wait and no fuss.

"This was slick as a whistle - we just walked right in," she said. "I can't believe the difference. It's just been wonderful."

The couple is one of nearly 500 residents at University Village Thousand Oaks to get vaccinated. CVS pharmacy along with staff at this retirement and assisted-living community administered the shots.

Executive Director Dmitry Estrin says the key to getting so many residents and staff to comply was to cut through the rumors.

"The first time through we were able to vaccinate about 94% of our residents and by the end of today that number should increase to 97%," he said. "We're able to get our medical director involved to explain what the Pfizer vaccine is and how it works."

While most residents felt they didn't experience any major side effects right away, experts say people should be prepared for reactions like fever, fatigue, and serious muscle aches hours afterward.

University Village resident Les Winters knows it will take a couple of weeks to build up immunity, but even then he still plans on wearing a mask and keeping his distance.

"I was shocked. I think it's the easiest shot I ever had and I've had a lot over the years," he said. "I don't want to change my way of living as it's been for the last few weeks."

Ten Eyck agrees, but feels the vaccine gives her some peace of mind.

"It'll feel liberating and it'll help us. It'll help me mentally," she said. "It'll just perk me up a bit."

Not every assisted living community is as fortunate as this one. Long-term care advocates remain concerned that many in this group are just as vulnerable as those in skilled nursing homes and are being left to wait.
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