VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - COVID-19 vaccines have now reached retirement communities and nursing and assisted living centers.
"We have been waiting for this since the beginning of the pandemic. [It's] essentially a huge step forward for community," said Jenny Maugeri. "Excitement is the name of the game for our residents and employees."
Atlantic Shores, which houses 650 residents over age 55, and more than 250 employees received the first shot of hope Monday.
CVS partnered with the community to administer the Pfizer vaccines. Atlantic Shores is just one of 874 long-term care facilities in the Commonwealth that began vaccinating last week.
According to data from the Virginia Department of Health, Atlantic Shores has experienced 37 cases and five deaths since March 31.
This was the first step to lessen the restrictions on seniors kept in isolation.
"This is a step forward for them being able to open back up see families and have that true connection with their family," said Maugeri.
More than 2,000 long-term care residents have died from the virus in the Commonwealth, and nearly 6,000 workers in long-term care facilities were also infected.
"If it enters a community, typically it is from an outside source right, and typically from an employee, so for them to have that constant pressure - this is life-changing for them," she said.
Westminster-Canterbury residents and staff also got the vaccine on Monday.
“The vaccine is the most powerful tool we have in stopping the spread of this disease,” said Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay President and CEO Ben Unkle. “It feels good to finally be on offense against the virus.”
He added, ”We look forward to the rest of Phase 1 when our Independent Living residents will have the benefit of the vaccine.”